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Protecting the Employer after a Termination

If we terminate an employee, how do we keep them from spreading negative or proprietary information about our company or posting the information somewhere? This happened before and it took an attorney letter and a lot of explaining to quell the issue.

Employee retaliation or even sabotage post termination is all too common. There are many platforms for disgruntled employees to convey their disdain for their former employers often at a significant cost to the employer.

The best prevention is fairly simple: Treat your employees with respect and dignity and they’ll be more inclined to do the same to you. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Showing employees respect starts way before a termination occurs. Establishing clear expectations, providing employees with the appropriate information and tools to do their jobs well, providing constructive feedback, and showing appreciation to employees is essential in fostering a trusting and respectful workforce.

Remember, you didn’t hire an employee to watch them fail. A genuine approach to improving an employee’s substandard performance and a sincere interest in an employee’s well-being and conveys respect for them.

Employees who feel the need to spread negative rumors about their former employers often feel they were treated unfairly or aloofly both on the job and at termination.

So, consider how you’re terminating employees.

How is the decision to terminate an employee made? Is progressive discipline followed? Are employees warned of poor performance? Are corrective action steps collaboratively discussed?

Even if so, terminations sometimes are just inevitable.

A good manager can terminate an employee in a kind and compassionate way. A great manager will have shown the employee kindness and respect throughout their employment making the employee less likely to retaliate against the employer after termination.

The location of the meeting is more important than most managers think. Meet with the employee face to face in a private room where he will feel the most comfortable. There is no need to have a dozen witnesses; anyone in the room should have an absolute need to be there.

Avoid pleasantries or unrelated conversations at the start of the meeting. These will only cause the employee to be uncomfortable or feel foolish after he finds out the reason for the meeting.

Explain that the employee is being terminated as of a specified date and communicate the reason for the termination. Be direct and to the point but not cold and withdrawn. Avoid arguing with the employee and dwelling on his mistakes. Be clear the decision is final. Short and sweet is best but don’t minimize the situation or the employee’s reaction.

Explain how the employee will receive his final paycheck, severance pay, and the benefits continuation process. The employee may be confused as to what to do next so help him move forward specifically when he should leave, when/how he can collect his personal belongings, how communicating the decision to coworkers/clients will be handled, or anything else the employee may need to know to ease the transition.

Remember the employee may be angry, either at you or himself or both, and he may feel embarrassed. Being considerate of his emotions and assisting the employee will help discourage these emotions from turning into hatred and scorn.

Now, protecting proprietary information is handled differently.

A non-disclosure agreement is fairly common for employees that have access to confidential and proprietary information. Such agreements should be given to employees at the time of hire or at the time they become privy to confidential information. Non-disclosure agreements should define the information deemed confidential and the penalties for breach of the contract. You may consider specifically stating what constitutes disclosure i.e. verbal, social media. Sometimes seeing what is prohibited in writing is enough to deter employees. Agreements should be signed and dated by employees.

Non-disclosure agreements relay the importance of keeping confidential information as just that, confidential. Employees are less likely to disclose such information if they know they’ll be accountable for doing so.

It’s perfectly acceptable to remind employees of non-disclosure agreements at the time of termination. You could even include a copy of their signed agreement in their termination package, if one is provided. If there is a breach of contract then it’s up to the employer to follow through on enforcing the penalties.


This entry was posted on Friday, November 20th, 2015 at 1:20 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management, Termination, Workplace Management.
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