Employee Discipline in the Workplace: Procedures & Principle

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  • 0:00 Anger In the Workplace
  • 1:07 Employee Discipline Defined
  • 1:45 The Principle
  • 2:44 Modern Practices
  • 4:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebekiah Hill

Rebekiah has taught college accounting and has a master's in both management and business.

Employee discipline in the workplace is a touchy subject. In this lesson, you will learn what employee discipline is, and how it affects the modern workplace.

Anger In the Workplace

Picture the following scenario: You have just reached into the cabinet and pulled out a bag of chips. After plopping down into a comfortable chair, you grab the remote and tune into one of your favorite movies. You grab your chips, rip it open, and reach inside to get a tasty treat.

Sounds great, doesn't it? How would you feel if you pulled out a chip that had an obscene message written on it? Shocked, I imagine! That's exactly what happened to some consumers of Frito-Lay chips in 1973.

What would cause someone to write obscene messages on a potato chip, you wonder? In an effort to make sure upper-level management realized they were unhappy, several Frito-Lay employees started writing messages on chips before they were bagged and shipped out to consumers. Once consumers started uncovering these messages, complaints rolled into the corporate headquarters. Management took notice and began to investigate the root cause of employee anger. They discovered that employees were very upset over the employee discipline system that was in place at Frito-Lay.

Employee Discipline Defined

What exactly is employee discipline? According to the business dictionary, employee discipline is defined as the regulations or conditions that are imposed on employees by management in order to either correct or prevent behaviors that are detrimental to an organization.

The purpose of employee discipline is not to embarrass or degrade an employee. The purpose is to ensure that an employee performs in a manner that is deemed acceptable by the organization. Does this mean that employee discipline is nothing more than being threatened with being fired? Of course it doesn't. Employee discipline is much more than that.

The Principle

The concept of employee discipline was brought up in the early 1900s. It was during that period that Henri Fayol, a noted French management theorist, proposed the 14 principles that he felt were essential to effective management. Discipline was one of those principles. Fayol believed that a disciplined employee was one that not only was sincere about his work, but also had faith in the policies and procedures of an organization. He also believed that a disciplined employee would fulfill the orders given to him and respect management.

In Fayol's opinion, discipline in the workplace was a necessity for an organization to prosper. Without it, an organization would certainly fail. Though Fayol was an avid supporter of the discipline concept, he did not believe that discipline should mimic bullying. Instead, he felt that employee discipline should be handled in a fair and just manner and should apply equally to everyone.

Modern Practices

Over the years, the concept of employee discipline has grown. Managers realize that discipline is a part of the job. They also realize that there must be disciplinary action within an organization to maintain some sense of control.

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