The cost of cutting corners- Why record keeping is crucial
As an industry, we are great at keeping very detailed records of customer interactions, and we excel at timely follow up, and we pay attention to our legal obligations around sales. However, are we doing as well when it comes to our staff?
Record keeping of the same type for staff is just as important- and this goes beyond the offer letter and annual review.
The costs around minimal or vague employee documentation can be high, especially if the employment relationship is at risk of ending.
Sadly, when an employer decides to end the relationship with a staff member it is often due to an extended period of challenges that can't continue, and almost just as often it the proper documentation isn't established.
With a tight market, low inventory and a changing legislative landscape, many dealerships are making the tough decision to end employment for those individuals that are no longer part of the "success team". Tolerance for safety violations, lack of appropriate conduct and skimming by with poor performance, attitude or attendance is waning. Conversely, the cost of making the change is increasing.
Recently, an employee with a lengthy history was terminated for cause on a very serious safety violation and was then awarded 39 months of wages as compensation. The bottom line? There was no progressive discipline on file for safety violations, regardless of his "checkered past".
Remember, the Employment Standards Act (or Code for Federally regulated employees) sets out the MINIMUM requirements, not the complete entitlement of an employee.
This also isn't just at termination, changes that relate to the employment relationship, even when an employee remains, may be construed as constructive dismissal and also subject to compensation.
Although the "document trail" may seem arduous or overly formal, here are a few tips and reminders to help keep sufficient records:
Ensure you are using an electronic system that doesn't rely on papers that can be lost or destroyed.
Note all interactions with staff that may have a connection to safety, discipline, attendance or other issues that are performance or regulatory focused. This includes the kudos wins and going above and beyond too!
Always follow up on expectations- having a specific review or due date and holding to it provides clarity for both parties and also helps ensure problems don't fall between the cracks until they become out of hand.
Keeping records can be as easy as retaining emails that were sent after a meeting to recap, entering data into a performance system (drop downs are great time savers!), or scanning in a hard copy received by a staff member or 3rd party.
Always ask yourself what the consequences are for all parties before taking action. If your next step may result in financial repercussions for someone, seek guidance from an SME before proceeding, this includes progressive discipline.
Be sure to get to the root of the issue and avoid making decisions based on what appears on the surface or 3rd party information. Do your own research and conduct thorough investigations where required. Keep those enquiries documented too!
Remember progressive discipline (up to and including termination) is not to be intended as punitive in nature- the purpose is to change or stop the behaviour, so make the consequences fit the goal.
Mirror the customer experience. If you would follow up, provide feedback, share information and give clear documents to you customers, why wouldn't you provide the same process to those that serve them?
The results of not having records to support decisions can be devastating. Employers have faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in owed compensation, fines, penalties and lost revenue (in a single case), don't let your dealership be one of them.
If you need to improve your record keeping system or need access to an SME to help find the right solution, we can help! Email us at email@example.com to find out more.