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Social Media and Terminations

September 22nd, 2015 Comments off

Earlier this year I wrote a blog about two types of terminations that should be considered high risk. One is when aggressive behavior violates workplace violence policies or elevates to an unacceptable level and the person has to be terminated due to that behavior. The other kind can sneak up on you and many workplace violence prevention programs do not address it. With this type, the person has displayed continuously deteriorating work performance, in spite of corrective counseling, and this leads to a termination requirement. What makes this situation high risk is that the underlying cause(s) for the deteriorating work performance can also contribute towards that person’s potential to react violently during the termination itself, or sometime afterwards. Their termination can cause an extreme sense of desperation at a time when they are the most volatile.

Furthermore, you will never know how long the person harbors ill will towards your company, or specific individuals in your company, unless you take measures to monitor them some way. One way to do this is to see their social media posts. Granted, they might password protect certain information but those who are prone to act out violently usually have less concern with privacy than their interest in publicly letting everyone know how they have been unfairly treated. Social media is a vehicle for them to do just that. Use this to your advantage post termination on the high risk cases and you might find out that the problem you thought you solved through termination has only gotten worse. On the positive side, it could also tell you that the person has come to accept what had to be done and is moving on in their life. Either way it is worth the effort or cost to take such precautions.

The most recent horrific workplace shooting of the news crew in Roanoke, VA underscores the value of knowing what is going on with someone who has been let go and remains focused on something or someone in your workplace. Not to say this could have been prevented, but having an idea that a former employee is still focused on you, allows for some possibly preventative options such as police notification, restraining orders, sponsored counseling, etc. In some of these cases, there may be indications of stress induced aggressiveness which should then serve as a red flag. Human resource personnel and the corporate security team should work together and involve third party professionals to evaluate and monitor what is going on in this person’s life.

Violence is typically a process, not an isolated event. The violence process usually has behavioral red flags along the way. This is what thorough workplace violence prevention training often outlines but it also applies to how the individual leaves the workplace depending on the circumstances of the departure.  Not realizing the desperation that a person faces, and the volatility that they represent, could be dangerous and using every tool available to gather data is prudent. The job may have been all they had left to depend on!  They are now focusing on your company as the evil force that took away the one last thing that was important to them.

For more information regarding safely conducting a termination process for all types of high risk cases, check out the courses at www.imac-training.com. Also refer to www.afimacsmi.com for more information regarding social media investigations.

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