In the back of any human resources director’s mind is the thought that terminating an employee could result in a volatile situation. Threats of workplace violence following termination are some of the highest risks that management and human resource professionals encounter. In fact, seventy-five percent of all workplace acts of violence have occurred during or after the firing process.
Improperly handled terminations may put your company and employees at risk. It is important that human resources professional become aware of any precursors or signs that an employee may pose a risk and determine what workplace safety protocols you should have in place. Three quarters of all workplace related acts of violence have occurred during or after the firing process.
For every workplace shooting that receives coverage from the media, there are hundreds of violent encounters that never make the news. Proactive employee education and judicious intervention with disgruntled employees will help avoid violence and maintain a safe and healthy workplace. When trained by our protection professionals in accordance with our arduous standards, employees gain the tactics necessary to detect, assess and make the split-second decisions that can literally save lives and mitigate violence in the workplace.
Whether you are evaluating an employee’s risk of violence, or you fear a hostile termination may incite violence, having trained plain clothes and uniformed security to provide workplace protection and hostile termination protection is a smart precaution. After a full assessment and consultation, MPS Security institutes a multifaceted approach involving a covert and overt security presence before, during and after the employee termination. Our agents are trained to prevent problems before they happen or, if they need to, take action to keep your employees safe and secure.
Warning Signs of Potentially Violent Employees
Firing an employee is never a comfortable event as you can never truly predict how someone will react. When dealing with troubled and potentially violent employees, take special precautions, particularly if you suspect that things could turn violent.
Long before a situation reaches a termination level, take steps to address the potentially violent employee. These start with best hiring practices and a widely promoted and well-enforced policy of zero-tolerance for violence.
Managers should be aware of red flags that may indicate a propensity to violence.
Some of these include:
- Signs of stress, depression, or suicidal ideation
- A major life problem, such as divorce or legal problems
- A history of problems with past jobs and and/or personal relationships
- A chronic inability to get along with fellow employees
- Mood swings and anger control issues
- Expressions of paranoia or persecution
- An inability to get beyond minor setbacks or disputes at work
- A sudden deterioration in work habits or personal grooming
- A fascination with guns, weapons or violent events
Best Practices When Firing a Potentially Violent Employee
- Consider a professional risk management assessment
- Consider using a neutral manager or outside security consultant to carry out the termination
- Any manager or supervisor that has received threats should not conduct the termination
- Have security nearby – not in the same office, but close enough to hear signs of a problem and to act
- Consider a plain-clothed security or undercover security agent to minimize attention
- Wait until the end of the workday to terminate
- Minimize any reasons why the employee would have to revisit the workplace (collect belongings; pick up last check, etc.)
- Be brief and respectful but get straight to the point; avoid getting into a back and forth
- Emphasize any severance benefits and outsourcing help that may be available
- Do not allow a break; a bathroom break could be used to retrieve weapons
It is important to take great care when terminating a hostile employee, particularly when threats have already been made. Take the right steps and keep you, your workforce and your brand safe. A human resources professional may wish to have a trained investigative staff assist with all hostile employee terminations. Here at MPS Security, we are experienced in hostile employee termination assistance and can provide you with professional and discreet surveillance on the terminated employee to document their whereabouts as well as their behaviors post termination. This will offer not only protection for your employees but peace of mind for the human resources director. The key to any hostile termination case is reducing the risk of preventable danger.