Human Resources

SBS 27: Tips on Preventing Employee Termination From Becoming Workplace Violence

Hey Compliance Warriors!

Today we’re giving some tips on best practices when terminating someone to prevent confrontation.

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Enjoy and until next time, Be Audit Secure!




Lisa: Today we are talking about violence in the workplace.


Mason: You hear today that violence in the workplace is at all time high right now.


Lisa: Yeah. We see it in the news all the time, don’t we and it’s just so sad. And you think about where these shootings take place. Somebody was at work there. And sometimes it seems relatively random that, do you know that the percentage, it says about 48% of HR professionals in a schemer survey this year said that, they’ve had some form of violence in their workplace and that is up 36% from 2012.


Mason:  And that’s, seven years, and that’s, I mean, 48%. That’s half, half of people.


Lisa: Yeah. It’s terrible. And now this is not just when we say violence, we’re not just talking about somebody pulling out a gun.  We’re talking about harassment, intimidation, and then of course physical assaults and then ultimately the sad case of homicides that we do hear about.


Mason: Yeah. So, it’s kind of an umbrella over all of these types of things.


Lisa: Yeah and so of course, in order to feel safe in our companies as HR professionals, we want to make sure that we have good workplace violence policies and procedures and that we know what our response is going to be and what the protocol is. Basically, there needs to be a standard measured response to whatever the situation is that’s happening. And so, to do this, this article that I’m looking at here by Roy Mauer, it discusses creating a culture of safety.


Mason: Yeah, that’s right. And that’s a really good, term to use. And when you think about a culture that means inculcating that within your organization.


Lisa: It absolutely does. And sometimes managers don’t want to be bothered with things like this because they think, Oh, it’s not going to happen to us, but HR, you need to do something about that, and that is not going to cut it right here. The firm commitment and active involvement of senior leadership is 100% necessary. This has to be from the top all the way down. Otherwise employees are not going to take this seriously and you will not be able to actually create a safety. It’ll just be HR being annoying instead of a culture of this is who we are and what we want and what we believe.


Mason: Yeah, and when you think about a culture that certain culture accepts, that kind of thing, that kind of plan and that kind of action. So that’s a really good term to use when you’re, developing these kinds of safety plans and things like that. And you think about it, we get questions from time to time, workplace violence. If you say it’ll never happen to you, these people who write us in and be like, our company’s not like this. We’ve never had a situation like this. And that’s why we’re writing you kind of thing.


Lisa: Yeah. They’re blown away


Mason: So, it can happen and so it’s good to hit the nail on the head before, it’s something can develop and have a plan in place to take.


Lisa: Oh yeah. Now, one of the biggest threat times is when you’re firing someone when you’re terminating employment. So, this article by Roy Mauer, it gives us five tips for sort of shoring up our termination process to make sure that it doesn’t turn violent.


Mason: Yep. So, we’re going to go through those tips. So, the first one is keep termination meetings brief.


Lisa: Yeah. Keep them brief, short and sweet. Schedule them at the end of the day to minimize confrontation and embarrassment. Some people say schedule them at the top of the day. That way the person can just go home. But I’m kind of an end of the day fan personally. So, you do what works for your company, but short and sweet is the key there.


Mason: Yeah, for sure. So, the next one is work with building security and local law enforcement and risky termination.


Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. So never just terminate someone on your own, have another person in the room have security waiting at the door, make sure everybody’s ready to escort this person out. And if you think they’re super high risk, have three or four security people. I mean, don’t think something is too much in a situation where there is violence involved.


Mason: Yeah and if you’re an employee listening to this, this is just, if you’ve ever been in a situation like this, I know my wife, she had a situation where she quit on really good terms and everything, but they escorted her out of the building and that’s just a good practice to have wind terminating anyone. So, across the board and my wife, she’s five foot two and barely a hundred pounds, you know, kind of thing. So, it’s not like she was gonna do anything or, and she wasn’t disgruntled or anything. It’s just that is a practice that organizations put in place for everybody.


Lisa: Absolutely. And then when it’s in place for everyone, it’s not weird and it’s not, Oh there’s something wrong with me. It is just to keep everybody safe. Again, it’s the culture of safety.


Mason: Yep. Okay. So, the next one is review what can and cannot be done to lawfully restrict employees from possessing weapons on workplace property.


Lisa: Yeah. Cause there are all sorts of state laws that say, if I lock my gun in my car on your property, there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t search my car; you can’t have me remove it. Make sure you understand what the laws say because if you are in one of those States, then you’re going to like Texas for instance, or Arizona, you’re going to be pretty certain that a lot of the people in your parking lot have guns in their cars. And so that could foster a feeling of security for some people. That could also foster a lot of fear. And if you show fear and you don’t understand what’s going on and how to handle it and what the laws say, you could come across confrontational to someone who is just exercising a civil right or a constitutional right.


Mason: The next point kind of leads into, counsel those in termination meetings on a de-escalation technique. In these situations, you’re usually pretty frustrated with the person and sometimes it’s a relief to let them go. But sometimes you want to give them a piece of your mind, but it brings out that you want to use the use of calm, non-confrontational approach just to get this over with and through and avoid any kind of problem.


Lisa: Right. And I like how it says here think about how to avoid physical contact with the effected employee. So physical conduct could be, let me give you a hug. I mean let’s just keep this completely calm and, not overly friendly but at the same time friendly enough that no one feels threatened. They don’t feel like you hate them. And like you might, like you said, you might want to give them a piece of your mind but you probably shouldn’t be doing that right now. So, a handshake is good, putting your hand on someone’s shoulder or grabbing their elbow or that could, that could be like I’m, I’m attacking you.


Mason: Yeah, you could have a whole other suit on your case if you’ve done that kind of thing. And so, in some situations where it is like a might be a confrontational thing and going in a handshake might not even be appropriate. So, you just sit down with them and just end the relationship calmly is we talked about in the last point and move forward.


Lisa: Yeah, because breaking up is hard to do. So, make sure you handle it right.


Mason: So, the next one is offer outplacement services.


Lisa: Yeah. Resume help. And if it’s appropriate, maybe, make sure you give them a letter of reference. if you can do that for someone, that is a really great thing to do. I worked for a doctor once who was going to have to cut a nurse and it wasn’t anything terrible, she was doing, it was just, budget and blah, blah blah. We have changes in the clinic. We need to cut one nurse. And so, he went to one of his doctor friends and said, I’ve got a nurse that I’m going to have to let go. Do you want to hire her And that doctor needed a nurse. And so, he just made a nice smooth transition for her. It was almost like she had been transferred.


Mason: A more bigger recent story was going in. The NFL is about to start, coaches make friends. And the saints coach made friends with the Ravens coach and they had a kicker, they had an extra kicker and he was really good. And he called him and said, Hey, this kicker really good. I want him to have a job, but I got to cut in because we don’t the budget to keep two kickers on our team moved him down there and he’s killing it for the saints right now. So that’s just kind of a higher profile thing, but that’s just, if you can do that, if the person’s good and you’re having to let them go for really, just budgeting, things like that. If you can that is so it looks so good on your company and you leave just with a really fresh taste in your mouth with everybody.


Lisa: Yeah, exactly. So, we know that this is all an educational process. We have to wrap our minds around it. We have to make sure the top down can wrap their minds around it, leadership on down and then that way we can create this culture because it’s so important.


Mason: Yeah. Well, I think that’ll wrap this one up but cause that’s a good article. Some good things to keep in mind.


Lisa: Yeah. So, until next time

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