Not every fired employee will go rogue, but when one does, they’re a huge liability. Disgruntled employees who have been shown the door might feel wronged enough to make a move that can jeopardize your company. The majority of employees are likely to leave quietly, keeping their resentment on the down low. The ones that don’t, though few and far between, might get awfully vengeful. If you’re worried about what an employee might do after a messy termination, take preemptive moves to protect yourself.
Assess the Threat Level
Some employees will be more adept at exacting revenge. An IT specialist who is familiar with how the entire infrastructure of your business has the potential to do catastrophic damage to your business. A janitor simply won’t be in the same position. Consider the risks posed by the type of employee you’ve fired and the amount of damage they could realistically cause. A look at their behavior over recent months may be indicative of their intentions. A well behaved but incompetent employee who is fired politely may not pose as much of a risk as a combative employee with a history of behavioral issues in the workplace.
Review Your Contracts
Ideally, you will have included something in your employment terms with every individual that prohibits them from disparaging the company during and after their employment. Keeping this in a contract and reminding the employee what they agreed to may dissuade them from behaving in a way that would give you a sense of legal recourse against them. The consequences may be enough to stifle any problematic compulsions on the part of the fired employee.
Another reason to review your contracts is to see what you can and cannot do as an employer. Make sure that employment law and your contract work together to create your justification for firing the employee. This will prevent the employee from crying wrongful termination. Understand your responsibilities as stipulated within the employment contract and hold up your end of the deal.
Fulfill Your Obligations as Soon as Possible
Make sure that the employee you’re firing understands how and when they will receive their last paycheck. If they’re entitled to severance pay, immediately tell them how much they’re entitled to and when they can expect it. The same goes for the continuation of benefits and unused vacation time or paid days off. Address these situations immediately. Train your HR employees to fire people gracefully, giving them a plan to quickly fulfill the obligations of your business.
Being upfront about the aftermath helps in two significant ways. For one, and employee cannot have a knee jerk reaction and claim they were shorted or cheated out of something that was owed to them. The second way is that an employee won’t want to do anything that might jeopardize their ability to collect – they’re out of a job and they need that severance to keep them afloat until they’re secure in a new position. Giving what you can helps to soften the blow.
Change or Invalidate Their Credentials
After you’ve fired an employee who may become disgruntled, considering cybersecurity is highly important. This person has login credentials for most, if not all of your systems. They have access to client information, and perhaps even confidential information about the company.
As soon as you fire someone, invalidate all of their credentials. Your employees will only have access to what they know from memory which should severely restrict their options for potential cyber revenge. They won’t be able to leak company memos or send out emails to everyone in their address book if they have no way to get ahold of that information.
Even if you don’t expect your disgruntled employee to attack your company’s system directly, be sure to prevent cyber attacks and data disasters by barring access anywhere and everywhere you can. Unfortunately for business owners, employees accidentally overshare on social media all the time. The last thing you want is a misstep, be it an intentional one or not, that dumps sensitive data out into the world. Ideally, you should restrict the access to all sensitive data at the same moment the employee is pulled aside and let go. If you haven’t done it yet, do it immediately.
Preventing digital access and preventing physical access go hand in hand. If your business is something like retail or foodservice, you may not need to be concerned with physical security. If your building has keycards, locks, or keyless entry systems, make sure employees you’ve let go don’t have access to the building. They could just as easily steal from the company for monetary gain, or steal physical copies of confidential information. Be sure that access is revoked to the building – especially if there are sensitive materials within reach.
Pursue Action When Necessary
Don’t wait until the situation spirals out of control to act. If the fired employee is making threats or taking small jabs, use your recourse plan immediately. Send formal cease and desist letters. Warn that you can take legal action if the offense in question would permit you to. Don’t wait too long to act. If the fired employee feels as though he or she is getting away with it, the extent of the damage may grow out of your control. Begin countering the moment it’s necessary.
Most of the time, employers don’t have anything to worry about if they properly fire an employee with grace and dignity. Even still, it never hurts to cover your bases to assure the continued success and security of your business.
About the author:
Sienna Walker is a business and careers blogger and an ex-tutor. Interested in all those little things that make businesses grow and expand, Sienna spends a lot of her time online, participating in online discussions with employees, CEOs, and job-seekers alike. Privately, a self-proclaimed coffee addict.