Safe Terminations Reducing the Chance of Violence

All too often management feels that removing an overly aggressive problem employee through a sudden termination, even if justified, will solve the potential workplace violence problem. The fact is that even with the best intentions a misconducted termination might be the seed of a more serious problem. A `need for revenge’ problem may develop if the termination is done without regard for the individual and their unique situation. Furthermore, you are in less of a position to monitor and control this condition once the problem employee has left your organization. Much depends on the specific circumstances that lead to the decision to terminate but conducting the separation process in a manner that takes away the individual’s desire to seek revenge on you or your organization is the ultimate goal.

In general, once a termination is decided upon because of an individual’s behavior, a full case assessment should be conducted to determine the best way to separate the employee and help them move on in their life. Whether the behavior development was progressive over time, as is usually the case, or a sudden outburst has caused the decision to terminate, options for handling the high risk termination in the most appropriate manner must be considered. Gaining a real understanding of the individual and the reasons for their behavior will arm you with what should be considered during and after the termination process.

There are two conditions that most often exist with potentially high risk terminations. One, the termination is rushed just to remove the employee who has acted out in one aggressive, intolerable incident. Frequently, this is not a sudden, singular outburst but a severe occurrence of a behavior pattern that has existed, but been unreported, for some time. The second is when an underlying aggressive behavior pattern has finally been reported but the individual has been getting away with such behavior for quite some time. Both of these types of cases require time to assess the individual and the developing circumstances to determine the right method, timing and conditions for the termination process. It is beyond the scope of this narrative to completely review the options available and things to consider. However, a careful assessment by a clinical professional working closely with your case assessment team would produce an approach specific to the individual that might include any of the following:

Interviews between the individual and the clinical psychologist working on the case
Interviewing coworkers and supervisors
Seeking other healthcare professionals for the individual
Seeking substance abuse professionals for assistance
Family counseling or use of other community services available
Coordination with security for the termination session planning and follow up security measures
Close coordination with HR for the termination process
A well thought out logistical/security plan for the termination interview and exit process
Follow up interviews with the individual to track progress after separation
Outplacement services to assist with seeking new employment
Extended benefits of some type
Severance packages tied to certain expectations

For a more complete exploration into the coordination of High Risk Terminations check out the training courses available on