Human Resources News & Insights

Protect yourself from sabotage by former employees

Once you’ve made the tough decision and informed an employee they are no longer part of your operation, proactive measures must be taken to protect the company, writes guest poster Gloria Lewis.  

Terminating an employee, whether for misconduct or a reduction in force, is never a pleasant task. Voluntary termination by an employee through resignation or retirement may not carry the negative effects of an involuntary termination, but protective measures should still be implemented.

At times, employees may be disgruntled about losing their job.

Your firm should protect itself from intentional or even unintentional sabotage by a former employee.

IT or the manager should immediately revoke all computer, network and data access the former employee had access to. Remote access to the firm’s network and other data should be revoked immediately.

The former employee shouldn’t have access to the company-owned property, such as a laptop or computer or intellectual property such as files containing client’s information, firm trade secrets and billing information.

Change passcodes and methods of entry

Allowing an employee to continue to have access to privileged information about the work product of the firm or clients can lead to unwanted exposure of confidential information. If the office has a secured entrance, make sure to collect any keycards or physical keys from the employee.

Changing passcodes for office entry should be done as well. If a former employee is disgruntled, the person may decide to come back into the office and destroy the property or obtain confidential company files or information.

Confiscate all devices

If the employee had a company phone or laptop, be sure to retrieve those devices before the employee leaves the property. If this is done after the fact, the former employee may refuse to return any devices. They may use this as leverage against the firm and begin to initiate demands.

Get a list of all the documents and other pertinent data that the employee was using or working on. It will also be a good idea to find out what templates or documents have been forwarded, downloaded or copied that are property of the firm.

Email and Web-based accounts

Restrict access to all email accounts that the employee has access to. You can create a temporary account with limited accessibility and user rights to ensure that all incoming emails from clients and other business dealings are redirected to another employee.

Even if you think that the former employee wouldn’t do anything to harm the firm, lax policies can expose your whole network make your firm vulnerable to a security breach.

Just as the granting of access and security clearances should be documented for future reference, the revocation of access should also be documented as well, especially for legal purposes.

The result of this effort should be greater protection of the firm’s data, as well as being prepared for any litigation regarding data theft, hacking and other forms of illegal use or misuse of company technology and information.

Gloria Lewis is the managing partner of Lewis & Associates, a legal and administrative staffing agency.

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