No one enjoys terminating an employee, but sometimes it has to happen. While many employees will leave without any issues, some might feel they were unjustly let go or be disgruntled after their termination.
In those cases, it’s important to protect yourself, your other employees, and your entire business. There are important security steps you should take to ensure your business is secure. Even if things end on good terms, carelessness or frustration can make a former employee a security risk.
With that in mind, let’s look at five security steps to take after firing an employee that will offer you peace of mind for your business and workers.
The last thing you want to worry about is a disgruntled former employee tampering with important documents or data. One of the most important things you can do is work to secure that data as quickly as possible once an employee is terminated. That includes taking active steps like:
- Disabling and changing all passwords;
- Disabling email access;
- Removing VPN access;
- Removing access to applications.
It’s also important to closely monitor your data and records for several months after terminating an employee. Unfortunately, there is a significant threat of insider actors in the business world. Even if former employees don’t directly try to access important company data, they could have a current employee doing the dirty work for them—so make sure you have someone keeping track of who is accessing information and what they’re doing with it.
It’s not difficult for cybersecurity hacks to take place nowadays, especially if your former employee is familiar with things like coding. Even if you take steps to keep your data safe by using different passwords and requiring two-factor authentication, it may not be enough.
With IT security policies in place, terminations can be safer for your business. A strong IT team will ensure disgruntled employees don’t regain access to anything important and will make sure they don’t try to harm your network. Your IT team can also ensure that every digital work device in your employee’s possession is returned and wiped clean.
Businesses spend a lot of time thinking about the safety and security of their digital presence. While that’s incredibly important, it’s just as essential to focus on the physical security of your business.
Physical security controls are something every business should prioritize, but they take on a different meaning and level of importance when you’re dealing with a former employee that’s upset about being let go. Some of the best physical security precautions to implement include:
- Having guards on staff;
- Camera installation;
- Employee badges;
- Changing locks or key codes to certain buildings or rooms.
While it certainly doesn’t happen all the time, some frustrated, fired employees will do whatever they can to get back into the building to cause harm or even create a disruption. Having these physical security measures in place will keep your employees safe, your building protected, and any customers or clients on-site from feeling threatened or scared for their safety.
In addition to protecting your own data and information, your company should have a plan in place to properly store medical records, Social Security numbers, passwords, addresses, phone numbers, and more sensitive information about current and former employees. You may even want to destroy these periodically or after termination.
Things like employee health records, disability benefit claim forms, or ADA accommodations all require extra care thanks to the sensitive information included. Make sure you’re checking with federal regulations to determine how you should properly store or get rid of those records. In some cases, medical records need to be kept in a centralized system for a certain length of time before they can be terminated.
Transparency is key when it comes to creating and fostering a positive workplace environment. Therefore, when someone gets fired, make sure to talk to your employees about it. They’re losing a co-worker and, in some cases, a friend.
Be open about what they can expect in the coming days, weeks, and months as you take steps to protect everyone and start looking for someone new to hire. Address any role changes they might have to deal with in the interim, and let them know what they can do to keep themselves safe. While your employees might not be thrilled about someone getting fired, they will appreciate your openness and honesty.
It would be wonderful if every business could operate smoothly, like a well-oiled machine on a daily basis. Unfortunately, that will never happen as long as human error exists. While it’s never easy to fire someone, it’s sometimes necessary for the sake of your business. Make sure you’re keeping your business’ success and safety a priority after you terminate an employee by implementing these steps, and you’ll breathe a little easier knowing you made the right decision.
Indiana Lee is a writer, reader, and jigsaw puzzle enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest. Her expertise includes business operations, leadership, marketing, and lifestyle, and you can follow her on Twitter @IndianaLee3