Some well-known members of the security industry give armed agents precedence over unarmed ones. Yet, others believe that the latter can be equally valuable in protecting CEOs, managers, and high-net-worth individuals, especially in an office space. In any case, specific situations require more caution than others. Hence, this article will explore how to handle hostile terminations calmly and adequately.
But first, let us look at some of the reasons for firing employees. Some of the instances why a company may terminate an employment contract include:
- Misconduct, harassment, discriminatory behaviour,
- Criminal activities,
- Poor performance, incompetence, insubordination, and
- Bad fit for the company or the position.
In many examples, disgruntled employees are the first to lose their jobs. Consequently, they may seek retaliation by inflicting physical or reputational damage to the company’s assets or property. Others may go so far as to harm other employees or sabotage business operations.
Such a situation mandates the introduction of security staff to handle hostile terminations. This type of team can be either in-house or outsourced. However, many employers are unaware of the process of pre-planning a cessation of contract obligations. For example, it means providing the employee with written final notice or warning, conducting investigations, and documenting reasons for ending their work relations.
At the same time, the company in question should notify the security staff of the potential for hostile terminations. Conversely, the protective agents should themselves prepare for any contingencies in advance.
If we examine the benefits of a security team preventing individuals from affecting a company adversely during hostile terminations, here are a few:
- Minimising risks of violence,
- Limiting interruptions, and
- Protecting other employees’ mental, emotional, and physical health.
Simply put, proficient and trained security staff can help avert business discontinuance.
Tools for Managing Hostile Terminations
Many disgruntled workers and those who have received a letter informing them of being laid off do not know how to handle the situation professionally. Some may turn violent immediately or behave erratically in the process. Others could try to damage the company in a week, month, or even a year into the future. It all depends on the person and their mental acumen.
For this reason, it is vital to determine upfront if the employee should leave the workplace as soon as the termination happens. Or if they are allowed to stay through to the close-of-business on a particular day.
Understandably, not all employees will behave poorly or threaten the firm in any way. However, those that do can inflict irreversible harm, especially if they have access to company data, tools, and confidential client information. Additionally, they may blackmail the company leaders by threatening to sell important knowledge to the competition or making it available online to bad actors.
To preclude such behaviour, it is helpful to institute a plan of action before it becomes a typical hostile terminations situation. Succinctly put, the procedure may include:
- Establishing a severance pay appropriate to that person’s position,
- Asking the employee politely to hand in all keys and remove relevant software from their personal devices before leaving the workplace,
- Ensuring that other employees cannot overhear or observe the meeting,
- Documenting the whole process,
- Contacting the human resources department to help prepare for potential issues,
- Allowing the employee to express their feelings and ask questions, and not simply handing over the termination letter to them,
- Refraining from debating or defending the decision,
- Removing the employee’s access to company systems and property, and
- Checking their phone and personal computers for any information obtained from the company illegally.
The Possibility of Escalation
However, let us assume that the employee in question reacts badly and turns physical. To control this situation, the company’s security staff should be present at all times. By doing so, they present as a kind of visual deterrent.
When the violent former employee notices that the protective team remains on-site, they may restrain themselves from escalating further — apart from a raised tone of voice or insults thrown at the manager and other staff members.
Next, the security team must react swiftly and remove the person and their belongings from the company premises. If necessary, it is worth reaching out to law enforcement to avoid having the former employee contact business personnel outside the office.
Yet, the possibility of escalation does not only refer to physical violence. In fact, the laid-off person can, later on, try to influence their now ex-colleagues to become accomplices in criminal acts against the company. For this reason, it is of vital importance to sit down with the rest of the workforce after the hostile terminations situation.
We recommend doing some of the following things to improve trust among the remaining team members:
- Informing employees of the expectations and rules of the workplace,
- Conducting face-to-face meetings to clarify misunderstandings,
- Speaking openly about the former employee and why the company dismissed them — to prevent rumours and address inadequate behaviour of other employees, unless for legal matters preventing this discussion,
- Reassigning tasks of the ex-employee to other team members and creating a job posting to fill the position, and
- Organising team-building activities, including retreats and exercises, to boost employee morale and have them bond together.
Although this is not a complete list, it entails the most frequent and effective actions employers can take to reduce the likelihood of similarly challenging situations.
Most companies will, at some point, face hostile terminations. But, equally important, many will reasonably want to reduce potential company liability in the process. Therefore, employers need to engage trained and proficient security teams to maintain a productive environment and give peace of mind in terms of uninterrupted business.
The protective staff handling hostile terminations can comprise two or more individuals. But most importantly, the company needs to inform them upfront about the intention to lay off workers. Doing so will allow the security team to prepare for emergencies and potentially poor behaviour by the ex-employee.
Finally, by hiring skilled protective staff, the employer:
- Improves overall security and safety in the office during the transition,
- Shows respect to terminated individuals by using professional, fair, and discreet security personnel, and
- Demonstrates leadership and protection for the company brand.
Companies like Panoptic Solutions support individuals and organisations in enhancing productivity and peace of mind by offering unmatched hostile terminations services.