By Michael Rhoads, August 16, 2022

Here at FELTG, we teach that there are five Elements of Discipline when a supervisor needs to prove an employee committed a misconduct. The second element deals with what you as a supervisor/ER/LR/HR Specialist can do to pro-actively notify your employees of the rules.  For the sake of argument, we’ll say that the rule we’ve established is legal and enforceable by agency standards. Let’s say your agency has established a rule where no one is allowed to keep open food or beverages on their desk overnight, or a rule that employees must remove food from the break room fridge before the close of business on Fridays.

There are a few ways to notify employees of a new rule. First, take a moment to introduce the rule at your next group meeting. If there is a common area in your office, post any new rules or agency regulations in a prominent spot. If your agency has a SharePoint site, or an agency policies page on your website, you can post the rule there as well – and direct employees there to view the rules.

The direct route is usually the quickest and most efficient. If you know the culprit who is leaving out open food or beverages, or violating the fridge policy, then addressing it with that individual is a much better practice than calling a team meeting with everyone, when only one person is violating the policy.

Face-to-face communication has been greatly reduced since March 2020. You can accomplish the direct approach over your favorite web-based software (e.g., MS Teams, Zoom, etc.), or by simply using a phone of your choice to call the person directly.

Let’s say the violation of these rules has become a pastime at your agency, and the supervisors have not been enforcing the rules. If you don’t enforce the rule, you lose the rule, so in order to re-establish the rule the agency must re-establish notice (send an email or mention it in a team meeting, for example).

And last, but certainly not least, there is a strong case for common sense.  Shouldn’t everyone know that if food is left out on a desk, opened, for too long, it may cause alarm to your fellow employees?  Not to mention any smaller critters that may be lurking about.

To find out the other four Elements of Discipline, join FELTG President, Deb Hopkins on September 7-8 from 12:30 – 4:00 PM ET each day for our flagship course, UnCivil Servant: Holding Employees Accountable for Performance and Conduct.

Stay safe, eat in good health, and remember, we’re all in this together. [email protected]

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