Discipline without punishment

Traditional discipline has two potential drawbacks. First, no one likes being punished. Second, punishment tends to gain short term compliance but not the sort of long term cooperation employers often prefer.

Discipline without punishment (or non-punitive discipline) aims to avoid these drawbacks. It does this by gaining employees’ acceptance of the rules and by reducing the punitive nature of the discipline itself. Here it how it works:

1) Issue an oral reminder. The goal is to get the employee to agree to avoid future infractions.
2) Should another incident arise within six weeks issue a formal written reminder, a copy of which is placed in the employee’s personnel file. In addition, hold a second private discussion with the employee again without any threats.
3) Give a paid one day decision making leave. If another incident occurs in the next six weeks or so, tell the employee to take a one day leave with pay, and to stay home and consider whether the job is right for him or her and whether he or she wants to abide by the company’s rules. When the employee returns to work, he or she meets with you and gives you a decision regarding whether or not he or she will follow the rules.
4) If no further incidents occur in the next year or so, purge the one day paid suspension from the person’s file. If the behaviors is repeated the next step is dismissal

The process would not apply to exceptional circumstances. Criminal behavior or in plant fighting might be grounds for immediate dismissal for instance. And if several incidents occurred at very close intervals the supervisor might skip step 2 – the written warning

Employee Privacy

For most people, invasions of their privacy are neither ethical not fair. The four main types of employee privacy violations upheld by courts are intrusion (locker room and bathroom surveillance) publication if private matters, disclosure of medical records, and appropriation of an employee’s name or likeness for commercial purposes. Back ground checks monitoring off duty conduct and lifestyle drug testing workplace searches and monitoring of workplace activities trigger most privacy violation. We’ll look more closely at monitoring.

Employee monitoring

Monitoring today has gone far beyond methods like listening in on phones lines or video monitoring employees. Biometrics – using physical traits such as fingerprints or iris scans for identification – is one example. With fingerprint technology, the user typically passes his or her fingertip over an optical reader, or presses it onto a computer chip. Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York uses biometrics scanners, for instance to ensure that the employees that clocks in the morning is really who he or she says he is. Iris scanning tends to be the most accurate authorization device. Some organizations like the Federal aviation authority use it to control employee’s access to its network information systems.

Location monitoring is becoming pervasive. As its name implies, this involves checking the location and movement of employees. Employers ranging from United Parcel Service to the city of Oakland California use GPS units to monitor their truckers and street sweeper’s whereabouts. Federal law required all new cell phones to have GPS capabilities by December 31, 2005 so this may expand their use by employers. Similarly cheaper GPS – type technologies will contribute to wider use of location monitoring.

Employee monitoring is widespread. One survey found that about two thirds of companies monitor e-mail activity, three quarters monitor employee Internet use, and about 40% monitor phone calls. Employers say they do so mostly to improve productivity and protect themselves from computer viruses leaks of confidential information and harassment suits. Furthermore employees who use company computer to do things like swap and download music can ensnare employers in illegal activities – another reason to clarify what employees can and can’t use company computers for. In one case, an employer in New Jersey was found liable when one of its employees used his company computer at work to distribute child pornography (Someone had previously alerted the employer to the suspicious activity and the employer had not taken action).