06-15-2017

Termination of Employment- Not the Time to Go It Alone

You are the security director for a large, public corporation, and you have a problem employee. Without assistance from anyone else in the company, you decide to handle the problem. Even after you draft and deliver a performance improvement plan, the employee’s performance continues to decline. It’s time to terminate. Without consulting company resources, you schedule a final meeting with the employee and prepare a package containing benefits documents, unused leave payout, severance payment, and everything else you think should be addressed. Finally, you meet with the employee and terminate his employment.

I know what you are thinking: Where was HR in all of this? Why didn’t the security director rely on HR’s experience and expertise, instead of trying to handle everything himself? By acting unilaterally, the director jeopardized the company’s reputation and may have exposed it to legal action due to improper handling of the sensitive matter. An unlikely scenario, yes?

Having the Right Team By Your Side

Some things demand a team. In sensitive or potentially dangerous matters, the do-it-yourself approach can be reckless. But every day, some tasked with conducting potentially dangerous personnel actions, such as employee terminations, do so without partnering with security. By failing to rely on security professionals’ experience and expertise, they leave the company vulnerable and place coworkers at unnecessary risk.

Employee terminations can be complicated, stressful, and potentially violent events requiring careful planning, execution, and follow-up. When done correctly, termination plans unite company stakeholders early in the process and typically address dozens of considerations aimed at protecting employees and conducting an effective severance. If planned and conducted appropriately, the terminee avoids unnecessary embarrassment, reducing the likelihood of retaliation.

Reducing the Risk of an Incident

Contact between the terminee and coworkers is intentionally minimized to reduce opportunities for outbursts and blame. After the termination occurs, security ensures a safe and controlled return of personal property to the former employee, recovery of issued company property and information, and removal of building and IT access. During post-termination follow up, security professionals watch for indications that the former employee intends to retaliate.

ASIS and SHRM, in their joint Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention Standard issued in 2011, stress the multi-disciplinary approach throughout, and identify stakeholders including HR, Security, Legal, Safety, Labor, EAP, and others. If you work in a company with internal security expertise, take advantage of that resource and partner with them early in the termination process. If your company doesn’t have a Corporate Security group, or if they are unfamiliar with termination planning, partner with an experienced outside security expert.

The Athos Group helps companies conduct safe employee terminations and RIFs. Visit us at SHRM in New Orleans, Booth 303, for more info, or at www.athosgroup.com

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