Archive for September, 2016

Social Media Monitoring after High-Risk Terminations

September 23rd, 2016 Comments off

There are different types of high-risk terminations. Some are obvious, and some are not:

  • Those where the aggressive behavior or act of aggression/minor violence has caused the need to terminate.
  • Cases of deteriorating work performance caused by underlying personal factors affecting the person’s judgement, emotional state, and ability to cope at work. When the work behavior is being affected and cannot be corrected, a termination is sometimes required.
  • Someone caught up in a general RIF or downsizing through no deficiency of his or her own, and they are let go. What might make them high-risk is if their whole life is defined by their job and they have no support structure (family or friends) to fall back on. These can sometimes lead to the person feeling so devastated that they act out during or after the termination. These situations are not always identified as high risk, even though they can be.

After any high-risk termination, you will not 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 method is to monitor their social media posts. It never ceases to amaze me what people will post on social media sites that they would not discuss in public for fear of someone overhearing. Granted, they might password protect certain information, but those who are prone to act out violently usually have fewer concerns about privacy than their interest in publicly letting everyone know how he or she has been unfairly treated and believe they are due some form of justice. Social media is a vehicle for them to do just that and you should seek this information after termination in high-risk cases. You might find out that the problem you thought you solved through termination has only gotten worse. Not only are they more desperate now but they are solely focused on your company as the reason for their personal downfall. Knowing that a former employee feels this way gives you some options to pursue, such as notifying the police, obtaining a restraining order, offering sponsored counseling, etc.

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 after their departure and especially around pivotal dates. Postings may become more prevalent around dates of hire and termination, birthdays, holidays, and other symbolic time frames. On the positive side, it could also tell you when the person has come to accept what had to be done and is moving on with their life. You might find they post happy thoughts about new employment or a new outlook on life related to some new endeavor. Either way, it is worth the effort and cost to take such precautions.

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 and it applies even after 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 Also, refer to for more information regarding social media investigations.

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