Disciplinary actions normally have significant ramifications not only on the employee involved but also on other employees, the organization as well as its clients. These implications are more critical in a health care environment since employees in this organizations deal with human lives. This essay will explore the implications of disciplinary action in the working place.
Back when I was a student, I missed a day of my clinical experience not intentionally but because I was feeling unwell. I however failed to communicate with my instructor because I was not aware of the official process followed when one is sick. On reporting back, the instructor made me cover for that day when the other students were having their off days. This particular disciplinary experience made me into a better health practitioner because of the way the instructor handled my case. She understood the fact that I had been unwell, however, she made me realize that being unwell did not justify irresponsibility. She explained to me that had we been only two nurses working on that shift and I failed to report to work without official notice, I would not only have impacted negatively on patient care and on my colleague but I would have also tarnished my entire nursing career. In addition, the manner in which she prescribed the disciplinary process on me conveyed that she respected me and that she trusted we could work towards a mutual agreement. The experience also made me realize that I needed to be cognizant of the various policies that guide my work as a working professional.
My most destructive disciplinary experience happened when I was in high school at a shop where I used to work on a part-time basis. At one time, I was left to mann the shop as the owner went to the bank. A friend came in and picked cash from the till box when I was not looking. The owner on coming back was not amused by the fact that his money was missing and I could not account for it since I was scared of implicating my friend. He fired me from the job, made my parents pay for the missing cash and reported me to my teachers as well. The incidence was destructive because the owner of the shop portrayed me to my parents, teachers as well as the rest of the neighborhood as nothing more than a common thief. I was subjected to a lot of ridicule by other kids on our neighborhood. In addition, my parents and teachers stopped trusting me which greatly affected my self esteem till I was forced to tell the truth. Based on that experience, I no longer want to be associated with friends from the wrong crowd.
Disciplinary processes have significant implications on the employees being punished. For one, once the details of the disciplinary process are filed permanently in the employee’s personnel file, they will always have a dampening effect on the employee’s career. For instance, the employee may miss out on future promotions simply because of the incident that led to disciplinary action. Therefore, employees who go through disciplinary processes tend to have blightened careers. In light of such adverse consequences, it is usually advisable for management to fully explore informal disciplinary channels before undertaking any formal disciplinary actions. The disciplinary process may also be a demoralizing, stress invoking experience for the employee of concern. On the other hand, disciplinary process may be beneficial for employees who following the disciplinary action opt to reform (Falcone, 2010).
The ramifications of disciplinary processes may also prove daunting for the organization more so when an employee files a lawsuit against the organization for unjust treatment. To avoid such scenarios, the management of an organization should have in place clear guidelines on disciplinary actions that are consistent with the provisions of the labor laws of that state or country.
The implications of the disciplinary process on other employees depend on their perception of how fair and transparent the disciplinary action meted on their fellow staff was. In cases where an employee violates clearly established guidelines or protocols and is accorded fair treatment during the disciplinary process, the other employees normally tend to be in support of the process. Therefore, the process serves as a deterrent for other employees since it discourages the behavior in question. However, if the other employees believe that the disciplinary process against another employee was grossly unfair, they will be highly demoralized. The latter may lead to a decrease in employee performance and subsequently organizational work output (Wilikinson et al., 2009).
In a health care environment, current evidence suggests that disciplinary actions against staff members adversely affect patient outcomes. This is because in such an environment, nurses who make errors fail to report them for fear of disciplinary action being taken against them. Doran (2010,p.250) argues that since majority of health care workers do not report whenever they make errors for fear of reprisals or being viewed as incompetent, the actual rate of errors amongst nurses is not known. This is despite that fact that some errors within health care settings are preventable especially those attributed to key aspects of the health care system (Kohn et al. 2000 as cited in Doran, 2010).
Organizations that have a culture of taking disciplinary action against health care workers fail to recognize the fact that health care workers are human beings working a in high-risk error-prone environment that more often than not requires them to make complex decisions. This argument is reinforced by Leape et al. (2000 as cited in Doran, 2010)who posited that nurses and other health care workers do not make errors intentionally rather these errors occur as a result of the complexities that mark the interactions between nurses and technology, nurses and health care systems and nurses and other health care providers.Moreover, as Keepnews (2000 as cited in Doran, 2010) notes, the culture of taking disciplinary action against staff who commit errors tends to blame the staff for such errors.
This, he posits ultimately leads to a failure to detect or even identify health care system issues that may be causing or contributing to these errors. Subsequently, these issues are neither investigated nor are they corrected and thus continue to contribute to more medical errors and ultimately impact negatively on patient outcomes. Doran (2010, p.250) therefore proposes that health care organizations should instead of disciplining staff for errors initiate efforts geared towards promoting a culture of organizational safety. The latter encourage more reporting of errors by staff by not affixing blame to them for errors committed. Conversely, organizations will be able to address the factors that contribute to these errors and thus improve patient outcomes.
In conclusion, disciplinary action has justifiable implications on the employee of concern, other employees, the whole organization and its clients. These implications can be positive or negative depending on whether the disciplinary action is construed to be fair and reasonable by the various parties involved. In a health care organization, these potential ramifications can be life threatening especially for patients.
Doran, D.M. (2010). Nursing outcomes. Toronto: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Falcone, P. (2010). 101 sample write-ups for documenting employee performance problems: A
guide to progressive discipline and termination (2nd ed.). New York, NY: AMACOM.
Wilikinson, A., Redman, T. & Snell, S. (2009). The SAGE handbook of human resource
management. California, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.