Managers may find it tricky to write up employees as they need to interact with them daily. However, issuing a written warning becomes inevitable when the situation worsens due to an employee’s non-performance or lack of discipline. If managers find themselves in this situation, they can figure out how to handle it themselves. 

A perfect write-up will have a professional tone that does not sound too intimidating or harsh. We have shared some great tips that HR professionals and managers can use while writing up to an employee. 

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Tips for Writing up an Employee 

Here are some tips that one can follow while deciding on the format of an employee write-up: 

Be Calm 

Managers must avoid writing to an employee when they are agitated or frustrated. It can distract them from writing professionally. 

It might induce emotions in the write-up at work which might not go down well with the employees. Furthermore, it can escalate things further, and the employee might not be in a mood to improve their performance or actions. 

Therefore, managers must calm down and engage professionally with the employee. 

Follow Company Rules and Guidelines

Managers must write a formal warning backed by company rules and guidelines. It will demonstrate that they are aware of what they are doing. Also, the employees might realize their mistake after going through the rules mentioned in their company handbook

For instance, if an employee is coming late to the office frequently, the write-up to an employee must include the rule that states that coming late only once a week is allowed. Likewise, write-ups concerning dress code and professional code of conduct should strictly mention the appropriate rules and guidelines. 

When the company rules back the write-ups, the employee will understand the situation logically and refrain from thinking that the manager is acting with a bias. Sometimes, taking the help of a senior experienced in handling employees can also be fruitful. 

Avoiding grammatical mistakes and using a formal tone are the necessities of any professional write-up. However, one must also check some online samples to get a quick idea.  

happy employee

Keep Employees and Managers in the Loop

If the write-up is related to multiple employees or managers, one should also keep them in the loop. One can use these individuals as witnesses and include their statements to make the write-up more accurate. 

Also, one must avoid putting across any personal opinions, and all statements must only be based on facts and evidence. The write-up must also mention statements demonstrating how managers can enforce a rule or disciplinary measure.  

Discuss in Person 

Managers can email the write-up or send it as a notice to the employee. They should also discuss the write-up’s content with the employee in person. They should be able to explain the purpose of the write-up and the expected answer from the employee. 

The employees must also be encouraged to improve their behavior or performance. Explaining the issues in person might set the right tone, and the employee will take the notice much more seriously. 

State All Expectations Upfront

The expectations must be clearly in the document or warning letter, especially if it is the first write-up. The follow-up write-ups can focus on the consequences if the employee fails to meet the manager’s expectations. 

For instance, if some employees are not punctual, ask them to improve their time management skills. The manager may also suggest some time-managing tips to the employees. 

Similarly, if the warning letter is regarding performance, ask the employees to learn new skills or focus on their duties. One may also suggest tips related to productivity and performance to the employee. 

In short, the letter must sound like an effort to get the employee on track. 

Save a Copy of the Write-up

When managers send a warning letter to an employee, they must also save a copy of it for future reference. Suppose the employee does not respond in time or responds in an unprofessional manner. In that case, they can follow it up with another write-up. 

It would be best if they give a specific deadline to the employee. It is because employees should get enough time to enhance their performance or improve their behavior. Employees should get enough time to enhance their performance or improve their behavior. 

However, the manager should follow up with a warning letter if there is no improvement in their behavior or performance within the given deadline. The write-up this time can be sterner and should remind the employees of the consequences of their irresponsible behavior or poor performance. 

How Do You Write Someone up at Work Examples? 

Now managers or HR professionals know the basic rules and tone they must follow when they write up an employee. So, now let us look at some disciplinary write-up examples that can help:

Example 1: Write Up to an Employee Who Frequently Arrives Late at the Office

Dear (Name of the employee),

We have come to notice that you arrive late at the office frequently. Even after repeated warnings, you have not been able to be punctual with your timings. 

It not only affects your performance but also has a detrimental effect on your team’s productivity. Ultimately, it hampers the company’s overall productivity, which is a serious concern for us. 

As you might already know, punctuality is one of our organization’s key values, and we expect all our employees to stick to the values. Reporting late or not fulfilling the expected work hours is considered a serious violation of punctuality. 

Mentioned below are the instances in the last month when you were late at the office:

  • June 1, 2022: 20 minutes late
  • June 7, 2022: 40 minutes late
  • June 9, 2022: 25 minutes late
  • June 13, 2022: 23 minutes late
  • June 17, 2022: 30 minutes late
  • June 19, 2022: 19 minutes late
  • June 21, 2022: 20 minutes late

The company policy allows all employees to arrive late only twice every month. Even so, they must inform the manager or a co-employee in advance and explain why they are late. 

This note is the first instance where we are documenting these violations. We expect you to arrive on time henceforth. 

Example 2: Verbal Abuse 

Dear (Name of the employee),

Yesterday, you were reported to have engaged in a verbal altercation with one of your colleagues. Your manager (name of the manager) reported the incident, so we have decided to issue you a written warning for the same. 

Verbal abuse is a serious case of misconduct and is taken seriously by our company. You might already know that several previous employees have faced strict disciplinary actions for misbehavior with clients and coworkers.

However, as your conduct is usually professional, we are only issuing a written warning this time. The company hopes that you won’t engage in verbal altercations any further. 

As mentioned in the employee handbook rule 12, violation of professional conduct and behavior can result in disciplinary measures. If such instances get repeated, the company can send a  termination letter to the employee. However, we expect you to take cognizance of this incident and stick to your usual professional conduct. 

Other Instances Where You can Write up Employees

It will help if the managers remember that they can also send a write-up to an employee to appreciate their performance, dedication, or other traits. Many managers also send a welcome email to their new employees to greet them warmly to a specific team or department. 

Many companies also use a performance review template to communicate the positives and negatives of an employee in a simple way. This template divides performance into metrics like productivity, skills, quality, consistency, enthusiasm, punctuality, communication skills, etc. It is a more practical and professional way of evaluating the performance of employees. 

However, when the warning letter to an employee is related to obedience, altercation, and such serious issues, a direct mention of the employee’s misconduct is a must. 

Therefore, managers must identify when to issue an employee a standard template and stern warning. They should deal with instances like lack of punctuality, non-adherence to company rules, and misconduct with caution and document them immediately to send a message across the organization. 

The Conclusion to Writing Up Employees

Managers must evaluate each case’s similarities and differences. They must treat similar cases with the same disciplinary measure, or the employees will consider them partial. 

Also, issuing a written warning is not required in all cases. A verbal warning can also positively impact an employee’s performance, productivity, or behavior. However, one can resort to a write-up to employees if there is no improvement in their conduct or performance even after a verbal warning. 

While one can use an employee warning form or template, sometimes the situation is complex enough to explain in a form or set template. In such cases, the managers should steer clear of formats and write a custom notice. 

Following the company, the handbook is always a good idea when issuing written warnings. It allows the managers to align with their organization’s rules and procedures. 

employees working together


1. How many write-ups can employees receive before they get terminated?

The number of written warnings an employee receives before getting terminated depends upon the policies of a particular company. Usually, an employee receives three warnings or write-ups before getting terminated. 

2. Can an employee be fired for not signing a write-up?

Employers can terminate an employee who refuses to validate a written warning by signing it.

However, there can be scenarios where employees feel that the reasons or facts mentioned in the warning letter are inaccurate or unjustified. In such cases, they may inform the employer about the same. 

Also, employers cannot terminate an employee based on gender, sexuality religion, sex, and race. 

3. How to know if an employee has received an unjustified write-up at work?

Most employers permit their employees to express their opinions on written notice. An employee might feel that an incident was reported out of context or that the performance or behavior evaluation was incorrect. Then, the employee can arrange a meeting with a manager and express their grievances. 

Suppose the manager feels the employee has sufficient reasons to oppose or refuse the write-up. Then the manager may follow it up with another write-up that resolves the issues or takes back the allegations made in the previous one.

Also, the employees will have to collect evidence to explain their side on serious violations like verbal or physical abuse, breach of company policies, etc. 

As a rule, the employees must always maintain a record of all written communication they receive. They might have received emails for excellent performance or a salary hike for being dedicated. These documents can also prove that the written warning to the employees raises questions about their performance or dedication. 

Suppose a write-up does not state relevant evidence to justify its context. In that case, the employees can ask for the same or discuss it with the manager in person. 

4. How to respond to a write-up?

The employees must respond professionally and politely to a written notice, even if they think the employer did not communicate professionally with them. Employers can also consider the employee’s response while analyzing their professional ethics and code of conduct. 

Therefore, employees need to calm themselves down and think practically about the situation. They can discuss the problem with the manager, but failing to send a written communication to a write-up can be a grave mistake. Therefore, they must respond to a write-up within a given timeline. 

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