It’s never pleasant to fire someone, but every manager gets put into that position sooner or later. Unfortunately, an angry, embittered ex-employee can do a lot of damage to your company and your brand’s reputation on their way out the door, if they’re so inclined.
Your company can even end up in litigation with your clients, partners and other business associates if a fired employee resorts to theft or sabotage.
What steps should you take to protect the company’s interests?
The safety measures you should take aren’t punitive toward the ex-employee. Instead, they’re designed to protect your company’s intellectual property and the private information that belong to your clients and business associates. To that end:
- Don’t handle the termination alone: Always make sure that another supervisor, manager, owner or member of human resources is there when you deliver the news.
- Have the IT department act quickly: Coordinate your actions with the IT department so that the employee’s email account is terminated and their access to any part of your system (especially if it holds client data or proprietary information) is revoked while you are talking to them. Security codes and locked-door systems should also be reset.
- Collect all company items: Whether this is just an ID badge or includes things like company laptops or phones, make sure that you collect everything before the employee leaves the building. You don’t want to take any chances of a data breach.
- Escort the employee out: Security should be on stand-by to make sure that there’s no sudden display of violence, but you do want to give the employee a chance to collect their personal items (and only those) from their desk before they are escorted through the doors.
Finally, let your other employees know that their co-worker has been fired. Nothing sparks a mystery like not addressing something head-on, but you don’t need to give unnecessary details.
An unhappy former employee is one of the main sources of litigation in the business world. Protect your legal interests with a proactive approach to conflicts.