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Firing Protocol Lessens Chance Of Workplace Violence

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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EDINA, Minn. (WCCO) – What happened last Thursday at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis sent shivers through every small business and corporate boardroom.

Thousands of under-performing employees are fired each day in the United States, yet very few react to the news the way Andrew Engeldinger did.

“I think often times employees aren’t so easy to predict,” said Dr. Kelly Wilson, a forensic psychologist with PsyBar.

PsyBar, located in Edina, specializes in providing psychological expertise to law enforcement, the courts and to private companies. PsyBar offers services designed to help employers identify potential problems before they happen.

“It’s important for us to pay attention and ignore the tendency of a small threat,” Wilson said.

She said it’s important that employers foster a workplace where fellow employees help report the first signs of trouble.

“The only way, usually, that an employer finds out about those things is if they have an environment where employees feel comfortable enough to say something,” Wilson said.

Careful termination planning and protocol can greatly minimize the chance for violence erupting at an employee’s firing.

That includes carefully choosing the room where the exit interview is to take place. It’s important to identify which manager will do the talking and any others who will serve as witnesses.

It’s also vital to have an exit strategy if something goes terribly wrong. To that end, experts strongly recommend that management use rehearsals prior to dealing with sensitive terminations.

“To terminate an employee just off the cuff, that’s completely wrong,” said Avalon Security CEO, Dan Seman.

But perhaps the ultimate insurance is hiring plain clothes security to be stationed nearby. That service has grown to become 40 percent of Avalon’s nationwide business.

“[Those fired are] not allowed to go back to their desk and not allowed to go to a locker,” Seman said. “Once they go to their car, we make sure to get them to their car safely and then leave the property.”

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