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Problems in the Workplace

All employees are expected to perform their jobs in an efficient and effective manner. However, there may be occasions when supervisors must deal with workplace problems. These problems may be disciplined-based, performance-based or both. In either situation, the supervisor should communicate directly and immediately with the employee when problems or deficiencies first arise. Any delays in making an employee aware of unacceptable conduct or behavior and deficiencies in work performance may appear to sanction such behavior.

In counseling with an employee, a supervisor should state what the performance deficiency is, provide suggested ways of overcoming the deficiency, a time period for that improvement, and the consequences if no improvements are made. It is advisable that a written record be made and/or written notification be provided to the employee.

A few examples of problems that could result in disciplinary action include:

 l An employee who forgets to do an assignment or who flagrantly refuses to do an assigned task. (insubordination or refusal to accept a reasonable and proper assignment from an authorized supervisor)

 l Receiving and making excessive or lengthy personal phone calls. (excessive use of the telephone for personal reasons)

 l Speaking to a co-worker or supervisor or anyone using undesired and/or vulgar language. (use of profane/abusive language)

 l Disappearing or leaving the work area without informing a supervisor for an indefinite or unreasonable period. (leaving work station without authorization)


A supervisor may seek advice from the Human Resources Department about how to effectively deal with employees who exhibit undesirable workplace conduct or behavior.

An employee may seek advice on ways to deal with a personal issue or workplace problem that could involve a supervisor or co-worker by contacting the Human Resources Department or the Employee Assistant Program. Employees who receive disciplinary actions they deem unfair, may contact the Human Resources Department for appropriate review and intervention.

Performance-based workplace problems may be exhibited by substandard job performance, relating specifically to deficiencies in job duties and objectives. Supervisors should provide employees with adequate notice and the opportunity to improve prior to dismissal and prior to the annual performance appraisal.

An EPMS Planning stage document is required prior to issuing a Warning Notice of Substandard Performance. During the warning period, the supervisor should meet with the employee periodically to monitor, review and discuss progress. Documentation of these sessions for the personnel file is required to remind the employee of performance expectations.

For more information on the requirements of a warning notice of substandard performance and supervisory responsibility, see the section on Evaluating Employee Performance and refer to HR Policy, Performance Appraisal for Classified Employees.

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