Quick Q&A: Why Bother with a Performance Improvement Plan? Can’t We Just Terminate for Poor Performance?
Here’s an important question posed to our experts in the HR Support Center:
What is the purpose of a performance improvement plan? Can’t we just terminate employment for poor performance?
The use of a performance improvement plan (PIP) can help reduce the risk inherent in any termination. A PIP is used to help employees whose performance has slipped, become inconsistent, or otherwise needs improvement.
It’s safest to terminate an employee when you have documentation that justifies the legitimate business reasons for the termination. If you’re terminating for poor performance, this documentation should include past warnings for poor performance, explanations of the consequences for the employee if they didn’t improve, and evidence that the employee failed to do so.
A great way to do all this is with a PIP, which specifies your expectations for employee performance, defines what success looks like going forward, sets regular meetings with the employee to discuss their progress, and explains the consequences for failing to meet and sustain improved performance within an established timeframe.
If the employee continues to underperform or fails to sustain improved performance, you may need to move on to termination. If you’ve been using a PIP, you will have the documentation to demonstrate that you gave them a chance to improve. This record will make it more difficult for the employee to challenge the reason for a termination.