The importance of keeping notes

News on 12 October 2018

Ever had any dealings with a HR Advisor? If you have you’ll know they always ask if you made notes. Why do they do this? Do they just love paperwork? Are they trying to add to your workload? Or, is there a really good reason?

Think about it this way; if you have a conversation with an employee about something they’ve done, for example, being late, how will you remember what you’ve discussed 2 months down the line? Or if you’re not around, how would anyone else know that you’ve spoken to this employee already about being late?

This is where notes come in. Anytime you speak to an employee about a conduct, performance, or attendance issue you should make a note of the conversation and place it in their personnel file.

What should you include?

  • The date the conversation took place

  • What you were there to discuss i.e. lateness

  • Who was present at the meeting

  • Details of what you spoke to the employee about

  • Details of what they told you in response to the issue(s) you were raising with them

  • Any agreed action to move forwards

  • If you’ve agreed a review date, add this in

While it’s important to get as much information in there as possible, we wouldn’t expect you to write down everything that you and the employee says. This wouldn’t be practical and would also mean that instead of really listening to what they’ve got to say, you’d be scribbling away. As long as your notes are an accurate reflection of what was discussed, this is fine.

It’s also better to get these notes typed up and saved in the personnel file as soon as possible. It’s hard enough sometimes to remember why you went to the kitchen, let alone what you spoke to an employee about 3 weeks ago.

Our advice? Never put your personal feelings in these notes. Keep them factual. The last thing you want in a worst-case scenario, is to explain to an Employment Tribunal judge why you’ve made a personal comment about an employee in a file note.

Contact us for more HR advice.