It’s not the most pleasant topic, but with many teams now working remotely or in a hybrid model, HR sessions like a disciplinary meeting may have to be held virtually. We take a look at the ways to make meetings like this easier on everyone, and answer questions that both employers and employees might have.
A disciplinary meeting isn’t really the most pleasant part of work even at the best of times, but the shift to home working or hybrid working can make it feel even more difficult. Nevertheless, you’ll have to weigh up what’s more appropriate – conducting a disciplinary meeting virtually, or waiting until you’re in a position to take the meeting face-to-face.
Waiting until offices reopen could be a risky decision – there’s a reason behind the disciplinary meeting, after all, and leaving those issues unaddressed or unchecked could lead to more issues down the line.
If you decide to press ahead, you’ll be running a virtual disciplinary meeting. This might sound daunting, so we’ve put together a few tips on how you can make a disciplinary meeting like this run smoothly and with as little stress for everyone involved as possible.
No-one likes conducting or attending a disciplinary meeting, but unfortunately they’re a necessary part of HR. Make sure that this difficult process is a little bit easier on everyone by following these disciplinary meeting tips.
Before you get started with a disciplinary meeting, you’ll need to double check your HR policies and processes. If your grievance procedure or disciplinary procedure state that the meeting should be face-to-face, you might need to get written consent or approval from the individual.
One of the most important parts of holding a virtual disciplinary meeting is making sure that everyone involved has proper access and the necessary software to make the meeting possible. If the employee is struggling to see or hear the meeting, they’re at a disadvantage, and this could add unnecessary stress and strain. Make sure you use a service that allows for easy video calling and also sharing of relevant documents, like PowWowNow’s video calling software.
An employee can opt to have a relevant person, or ‘companion’ accompany them. You can find out more about this at Acas. If the employee has opted to have a companion present, such as a colleague or trade union representative, make sure everyone has the invitation to the disciplinary meeting, and that everyone is aware when and how the meeting will be taking place. It’s also worth discussing and agreeing ahead of time how the employee can speak with a witness or third party during the meeting, such as a second video call or separate phone call.
Of course, before the hearing, you need to make sure the employee has written notice of the disciplinary action, including:
Make sure everyone has access to an agenda, and any relevant HR documentation by sending them to everyone ahead of time. You can also use in-call document and screen sharing options to make sure everyone is clear on what’s being discussed.
Running a virtual call can be difficult, especially if people talk over one another. Even with good internet connections on both sides, it’s easy to overlap – so take your time on the call. The employee will probably have plenty of disciplinary meeting questions they’d like answered, so take your time in allowing them to ask and answer slowly. If you’re not a natural on video calls, check out our guide on video call confidence to get prepared.
Holding a disciplinary meeting virtually might feel awkward and stilted, but there are some unexpected benefits. If the meeting is strained or if emotions are high, once the meeting is over, both parties can take their time to come around. An upset employee won’t have to face leaving a meeting room in full view of the office – they’ll be in the safer environment of their own home. In fact, you can take advantage of running a disciplinary meeting virtually – add the meeting into your calendar for a little longer than you think the meeting needs to be, so both you and the employee in question can take some time afterwards without being interrupted by other calls.
It’s up to your HR team and policies on recording a disciplinary meeting. If you decide that one or both parties will record the meeting, luckily video conferencing software like PowWowNow allows you to record meetings at the click of a button, and let everyone in the meeting know that you’re recording the disciplinary meeting. After the meeting is concluded, the file can be shared with the employee and other relevant parties.
Conducting a virtual disciplinary meeting can be difficult – but with preparation and the right video calling tools, you can make the process easier for everyone involved. For more tips on how to manage remote workers and handle video calls, check out our smarter working hub.