Unless an employee is a near-literal incarnation of evil itself, the act of firing is never a pleasant or fulfilling task. Though firings may be necessary for the longevity and product output of a company, telling an employee that their services are no longer needed is a heart-wrenching, emotionally-draining experience that puts both parties in distress.
Regardless of the reason for a termination, if you are a business owner, you have a responsibility to protect your business at all costs. While letting an employee go may mark the end of a working relationship, if handled ineffectively, it may be just the beginning for a spite-fueled attack. Even the most docile employees can succumb to anger and frustrations, leaving a business reeling in response.
Though most attention in the past has been drawn to avoiding physical violence with ex-employees, in this technology era, preventing an infrastructure attack is just as important. In a moment’s notice, an employee with enough clearances can wipe out systems, leak information, and throw an organization into a state of irreversible chaos. Here are some guidelines for terminating an employee as amicably as possible:
- Avoid A Waiting Period: Terminating an employee with high-level IT access needs to be an action that happens immediately. You may think you are doing your employee a favor by giving a heads-up about a termination, but an extended window can lead to disaster with leaked proprietary information.
- Keep A Watchful Eye: If an employee has access to security clearances or customer data, do not let the employee go back to their desk unattended. In a state of shock and anger, an employee can make a rash decision that even he/she might regret, so for the benefit of both the employee and your organization, do not permit computer access.
- Revoke Accounts And Clearances: Since an employee may be able to access accounts from other office computers or on personal devices, it’s important to revoke all account access at the moment of termination. This means no sign-in information, no retention of company files, and no key/passcode to enter the building.
- Listen: Put yourself in the shoes of the employee and look at the situation from the different perspective. It’s vital to avoid being patronizing in the firing conversation or react with stock emotional responses, as both will only fuel negativity. Listen and appear sympathetic, but remain firm and don’t feed into hostility or pleas.
- Be Prepared: An employer that seems unprepared to answer questions and address concerns will only prove to enrage an already emotionally-distraught employee. Head into the meeting prepared with your statement and answers will assist the employee in making it through the difficult situation without turning to workplace sabotage.