Avoid Damage from Disgruntled Ex-Employees

Termination is always painful whether it's for cause or part of a business slump.

Boss pointing/yelling at an employee

Employees who are fired or laid off often have negative feelings about the company and some could act out their anger in damaging or violent ways.

Of course, you can try to ease the pain by handing out generous severance packages, outplacement benefits and counseling. Give out written information about the support the company will provide and let employees know you are providing cushions, even though you aren't legally required to. But don't expect these provisions to satisfy all distraught ex-employees.

Here are seven precautions that can help keep your company safe from serious harm inflicted by former employees.

1. Before taking any action, discuss your plans with supervisors. Act quickly to avoid starting the rumor mill and giving employees time to think about ways to sabotage. And consult a labor attorney to discuss the issues.

2. Notify your security manager after employees have worked their last shifts -- but before they return to work to receive news of the termination. (If you don't have a security officer, consider hiring an outside firm to help in the termination process.) Plan to bar the employees' access to the building when the termination interview starts and deactivate any security codes the employees may have to the building.

3. Have your network administrator (with the help of supervisors) determine every computer system the employees can access and deactivate passwords. Common types of computer access include:

4. Keep each termination interview private and compassionate. Avoid embarrassing ex-employees and assure them the details will be kept private.

5. During the termination interview ask for all company-related ID cards. Make sure employees return such equipment as cell phones and laptop computers.

6. Ask the security officer to accompany former employees to a private waiting room to pick up their belongings. Do not let employees back into to their work areas. You may be tempted to just escort them right to the reception area or parking lot, but this could be humiliating. Keep the entire procedure as private as possible.

7. Have a supervisor or security officer discreetly pack an employee's personal belongings and bring them to the waiting room. Verify that nothing is forgotten or missing. Have the person escorted to the parking lot and remove any vehicle stickers that allow entry into the parking lot or garage.

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