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Ask HR: What’s the Purpose of a Performance Improvement Plan?
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Talent Acquisition

Ask HR: What’s the Purpose of a Performance Improvement Plan?

Is one of your employees failing to meet expectations? Are you looking for tips on how to help improve their performance and facilitate what can be a difficult conversation?

While some employers may look to immediately terminate the employee, there could be risk involved if you fail to produce proper documentation. Instead, consider a performance improvement plan (PIP). A performance improvement plan is designed to facilitate a constructive conversation between you and your employee. Many organizations use performance improvement plans to help guide struggling employees.

In this latest installment of Ask HR, the experts at HR Support Center define the purpose of performance improvement plans.


What is the purpose of a performance improvement plan? Can’t we terminate employment for poor performance?


The use of a performance improvement plan can help reduce the risk inherent in any termination. It supports 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 termination. And 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 summarize documentation is through a performance improvement plan, which specifies your expectations for performance, establishes your definition of success, sets regular meeting with the employee to discuss their progress and explains the consequences for failing to meet and sustain improved performance within an established time frame.

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.

Looking for a team of experts to provide HR support and guidance to your organization? Contact our team to learn more about the benefits of HR Support Center.

About Paycor

Paycor creates HR software for leaders who want to make a difference. Our Human Capital Management (HCM) platform modernizes every aspect of people management, from the way you recruit, onboard and develop people, to the way you pay and retain them. But what really sets us apart is our focus on business leaders. For 30 years, we’ve been listening to and partnering with leaders, so we know what they need: HR technology that saves time, powerful analytics that provide actionable insights and dedicated support from HR experts. That’s why more than 30,000 medium & small businesses trust Paycor to help them solve problems and achieve their goals.

This information is not intended for legal advice; if you have legal questions concerning a particular situation, you should consult with a licensed attorney.

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