Steps every organization should take with a potential high-risk termination

No one enjoys losing their job. It’s upsetting, confusing, and oftentimes humiliating. And no one likes letting an employee go; it’s a difficult, awkward situation none of us enjoy. But employee terminations are common and necessary — poor performance, downsizing, and policy violation are just a few scenarios where you might consider letting an employee go.

In any case, you should always handle employee terminations in a calm, compassionate, and professional manner to ensure a safe transition for your business and the former employee. But unfortunately, you can’t always predict how an employee will react to startling news — they could retaliate with threats or become violent.

You can help prevent this risk of workplace violence by knowing the warning signs and developing a security plan. Workplace violence is on the rise, and it’s better to be a step ahead and be prepared, rather than run the risk of putting your business and employees in danger.

The warning signs

You can help prevent the chance of a high-risk employee termination by simply knowing the signs. Be mindful and look for signs of verbal abuse, arguments, theft, or pranks, and immediately report these instances if you feel concerned. It’s important to act when incidents are smaller; they have the potential to escalate to physical violence, and they’re easier to manage than a larger crisis.

Also, take note of significant changes in employee behavior and stressful events (personal losses, financial problems, etc.) — these also have the potential to escalate.

Here are a few signs to watch out for:

• Sulking and irritability
• Use of inappropriate and crude language
• Grudges, rumors, arguments, and verbal abuse
• Consistent tardiness, absenteeism
• Disrespect for authority
• Perceived social isolation in the workplace
• Job performance issues and refusal to address them
• Blames others, unable to handle criticism
• Tests limits of professional conduct
• A history of violence or violent tendencies (fascination with violence, weapons, etc.)
• Unusual/suspicious behavior on social media
• Threats made to others (planned or spontaneous)

Non-verbal signs:

• Pacing, restlessness
• Visible fatigue, stress
• Sweatiness, pale or flushed face
• Strained or violent gestures
• Anxiousness, avoiding eye contact
• Glaring or aggressive demeanor
• Other out-of-the-ordinary behaviors

If you’re worried or even a little concerned, take action and report suspicious behavior to your supervisor or HR department. Employers have a legal obligation to provide their employees with a safe workplace, including safety from any form of violence.

If you don’t feel comfortable contacting your supervisor or HR department directly, you can anonymously report incidents and concerning behaviors with our HonorLine. HonorLine is an anonymous hotline owned and operated by DK Security and designed for use by our clients to report suspected criminal and unethical conduct within their organization.

Put a plan in place

It’s better to be proactive and have a security plan already developed rather than run the risk of violence during a high-risk employee termination. You can also mitigate the risk of violence before you even hire someone — pre-employment screenings are used for a reason.

Pre-employment screenings help employers protect their staff and workplace by creating safer, secure environments, reducing the risk of abuse, violence, and theft. At DK Security, we offer in-depth background screening services to ensure high-quality hiring practices. We also take it a step further and provide same-day scheduling fingerprinting services — we know how time-consuming the hiring process is, which is why we invested in technology that makes running your next background check simple.

You can take the stress out of developing your own security plan by working with a local security service provider. We provide clients with our expertise and a plan to handle employee terminations appropriately and amicably.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when terminating an employee:

• Stage the termination in a private area so the conversation can be kept quiet; the employee also won’t have to endure the walk of shame.
• Revoke company resources — laptops, keycards, physical keys, phones, etc.
• Change locks, passwords
• Have a third party present and consider providing supplemental security

Some of these measures may not be necessary for all employee terminations. At DK Security, we calculate the risk of a termination by offering our clients an in-depth threat assessment specific to their needs.

We provide a detailed plan, recommendations, and expert advice so our clients can handle the situation safely and effectively in-house — we are not physically involved in the termination directly unless absolutely necessary. After a termination, our undercover officers will surveil an organization for a time period (usually the remainder of the work week) to prevent potential unauthorized re-entry.

The safety of your employees and workplace shouldn’t be keeping you up at night; let that burden rest on our shoulders. Let us help you develop a solid security plan so you can catch more Z’s and run your business worry-free. Let’s chat!


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