Efficacies Of Discipline Within The Office Environment

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  1. Introduction

Employee discipline refers to the regulations or conditions that are imposed on employees by management in order to either correct or prevent behaviours that are detrimental to an organization. The purpose of employee discipline is not to embarrass or degrade an employee but to ensure that an employee performs in a manner that is deemed acceptable by the organization.

Employee discipline is further defined as:[1]

“the orderly conduct by an employee in an expected manner. It is the force or fear of a force that deters an individual or a group from doing things that are detrimental to the accomplishment of group objectives. In other words, discipline is the orderly conduct by the members of an organisation who adhere to its rules and regulations because they desire to cooperate harmoniously in forwarding the end which the group has in view”.

Also, discipline in the workplace is a prescribed behaviour or form of performance, that guides or dictates staff and management attitudes towards work, clients and entire members of an organization.  Employee discipline in the workplace can alternatively be defined as obedience to the company policies, rules, regulations, and processes laid down by management. Most organizations have operational manuals, a compact book that contains the organisation’s structure, obligations and responsibilities of different cadres and departments, as well as the procedures, methods and strategies used in such organizations.

The discipline of an employee is about making the work atmosphere safe and suitable for both workers and management and not necessarily a matter of authority or punishment. Employee discipline is accomplished when there is a foundation of trust between executives and workers, which starts with clear and consistently re-enforced communication of expected minimum standards of behaviour in the workplace.

Discipline is one of the most important personality traits. It refers to a set of rules and regulations which are to be followed while undergoing any task or activity. It entails honesty, hard-work, and right motivation, backed by positive feedback and encouragement while carrying out any task.

  1. What is Discipline in Office Environment and Management?

Enforced discipline in the workplace is employed by organizations to adjust undesirable performance and behaviour of workers utilising a corrective action process. At the onset of any employee poor performance or undesirable conduct, supervisors are strongly encouraged to contact Employee Relations staff for assistance.

Workplace discipline should insist on a serene and quiet office environment and management should ensure there are very minimal distractions interfering with the collaboration of team members to achieve organization goals and objectives. Discipline is in fact the lifeline of an organization and without employee discipline, employees would not only misbehave but would jeopardize business goals and objectives and portray an enterprise in very poor light.

  1. Importance of a Disciplined Work Environment

The purpose of disciplinary action is to correct, not to punish, work related behaviour. Each employee is expected to maintain standards of performance and conduct as outlined by the immediate supervisor and to comply with applicable policies, procedures, and laws.

The following are some of the benefits of implementing disciplinary action in a work environment:

  • It instils in employees/workers the willingness to accept rules, regulations, and procedures of an organisation so that organizational objectives can be achieved.
  • Employees learn to accept responsibility and receive direction as may be appropriate.
  • It lifts employee morale and improves efficiency among the workers.
  • It encourages the establishment of one-accord and cooperation among the workers towards a common objective.
  • It ensures that all employees are treated fairly and equally.
  • Discipline guides employees to obey the Codes of conduct that guide and improves their attitude to work which makes them better individuals and productive members of the society.
  • It ensures that management as well as employees are always on their best behaviour.
  • It enables employees correct any deficiencies with the goal of becoming valuable, contributing members of staff.
  1. Types of Disciplinary Action

There are two major types of disciplinary actions that Management or organisations may employ to correct employees’ attitude to work.

  • Positive Discipline: The objective of these types of discipline is not to punish the workers but to maintain a positive and productive work culture.

Low productivity, minor mistakes and other employee issues can often be solved through training and positive feedback and/or incentives. When an employee is not performing to the level of expectance, there are a few ways to use positive discipline to give them a chance to improve and make corrective adjustments.

Positive discipline is a method in which the positive aspects about the employee’s actions (rather than the negative behaviours) are highlighted. It seeks to explain to the employee what positive actions the employer is looking for, opting to focus on the desired behaviours and outcomes instead of the problems.

  • Negative Discipline:

Negative discipline is the use of consequences to deter employees from undesirable behaviours. There is a significant difference between positive discipline and negative discipline in Human Resource Management.

Negative discipline consists of some form of punishment, such as negative criticism, issuance of write-ups, demotion, wage loss, suspension, or termination. Generally, negative discipline should be your last resort. You do not want your employees to feel as though they are perpetually under attack. Examples of inappropriate negative discipline are shouting at the staff/employee, humiliating your subordinate, physical violence, fighting and using abusive language, using a commanding tone on staff, being distant or cold towards staff.

  1. The Disciplinary measures employers can adopt to ensure workers become effective performing members of the organization.

The following are some disciplinary measures[2] that can be employed to correct erring employee(s) in an organization:

  • “Issuing Verbal Warnings – This isa disciplinary measure where an employer speaks to an employee about an issue involving their behaviour, conduct, or job performance. It is usually the very first step of the disciplinary process.
  • Issuing Written Warnings – This is a form of a document, to warn an employee of their actions in the workplace, general conduct and the potential consequences if the employee does not remedy their behaviour e.g. query etc.
  • Issuing Letter of suspension – This is a disciplinary measure issued to grievances offence done by an employee and this measure is used to improve the attitude of affected employee and to put him/she in order.
  • Issuing of Letter of Termination – This is a disciplinary measure used to correct bad attitude of workers which are terrible for example, willful insubordination or disobedience; theft, fraud, or dishonesty; willful damage to or loss of employer’s goods; partaking of bribes or any illegal gratification; absence without leave for more than 10 days; habitual late attendance etc.” 
  1. Conclusion

Every organisation has different disciplinary measures contained in its staff handbook which governs Employer and Employee conduct and the minimum standard of conduct and behaviour expected of staff members.

As highlighted above, discipline is one of the most important personality traits. It refers to a set of rules and regulations which are to be followed while undergoing any task or activity and self-discipline is the single most important attribute to becoming successful in any endeavour. It helps you stay focused on reaching your goals, gives you the tenacity to stick with difficult tasks, and allows you to overcome obstacles and discomfort as you push yourself to new heights.

Leaders who are high on self-discipline are not easily distracted. They can maintain high levels of concentration despite other lesser priorities or demands on their time. Self-discipline at work allows leaders to give their full attention to the task at hand and keeps each person in control of their emotions and their inner and outer environment while motivating a person to strive for and achieve success in any given circumstance.


For further information on this article and area of practice, please contact

Justina Olayinka at S. P. A. Ajibade & Co., Lagos by

Telephone (+234 1 472 9890), Fax (+234 1 4605092)

Mobile (+234 80 9488 6972) or (+234.815.979.4218)

Email: jolayinka@spaajibade.com



[1]        See Neeraj S.,” Employee Discipline: Meaning and Definitions”, available at https://www.economicsdiscussion.net/human-resource-management/employee-discipline/31795 accessed on 29th August 2022.

[2]      See Sampson Quain, “Types of Discipline Used in the Workplace”, available at https://smallbusiness.chron.com/types-discipline-used-workplace-10890.html accessed on 25th August 2022.


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