Personal Protection considerations are a “duty of care” during employee dismissal meetings.
There are times when an employee must be interviewed, in order to inform them that their services are no longer required. Corporate duty of care towards your HR team assigned to conduct such interviews must be considered, especially if the employee has a history of violence or aggressive behaviours.
The appropriate planning and execution of an interview to dismiss an employee can have a direct impact on the tone and outcome of such events. The room, furniture layout and security measures should create a safe and calm environment that diffuses emotional aggression and anger towards the interviewers. But what can the interviewer do, if the employee being dismissed becomes abusive or violent?
I have advised many HR departments, large and small, about the set up and conduct of disciplinary interviews where the employee being dismissed has a reputation for violent behaviour or is being dismissed for gross misconduct, as a result of criminal charges brought against them for assault.
Firstly, a company has a duty of care to risk assess the interview process and identify threats or potential conflict that may arise from the dismissal of the employee. If that risk assessment reveals that there is potential for violent or threatening behaviour, a security professional should be contracted or identified internally, to be ready to protect the HR team.
That security professional must be protection trained and understand that conflict resolution does not mean frog marching the aggressor out of the building. The emotional intelligence and influencing skills of the Protection Officer are as important as their ability to restrain the employee.
Prior planning considerations will enhance the safety of the HR team. Ideas to consider include:
Considering the size of your real estate, will your dismissed employee be able to leave the premises without the embarrassment of passing colleagues or without creating a scene of protest that will disrupt operations? If that is a concern, consider hiring a meeting room in a nearby hotel business suite. It is an impartial location that will be taken as neutral ground, especially if the employee has stress related anxiety that is fixated on the company.
The Meeting room
If you anticipate the likelihood of aggressive behaviour, ensure that the table between you and the interviewee is wide enough to offer a physical barrier preventing them reaching across to grab or assault the interviewer. Ensure the seating affords easy access to the door for both parties. Hot drinks should be taken in the foyer area and not in the meeting room. A thrown glass of water is less damaging than boiling tea or coffee. Try and book a room with a spy hole viewer in the door so that you can be observed externally by your Protection Officer.
Personal Protection Officers worth their salt, will adopt a very low profile. The interviewee may take the allocation of a security officer as inflammatory or as an indication of fear by the interviewer which can be manipulated with intimidation. The Protection Officer should remain anonymous if possible and remain outside the room with a duress phrase should the HR team feel threatened. The door viewer can be used to keep an eye on the interviewee’s demeanour. A good Protection Officer will always brief the interviewers on simple body language tells that indicate whether a person is simply angry and shouting or when they are fixated and prepared to attack. This simple knowledge can prevent an over-reaction or under- reaction to perceived threats.
The benefit of good aftercare following a dismissal cannot be underestimated. Having a taxi ready and paid for ensures that the dismissed employee does not linger around the office, in local pubs waiting for their old workmates to come out to hear their stories of unfair treatment. Having a car ready ensures that the ex- employee is taken home to their family where they can feel secure and cared for following the bad news. Having the services of an external welfare organisation can display that your company is still prepared to help in the transition period and that the action is regrettable. This simple consideration decreases the propensity to lash out at the company in the following weeks.
Eden Private Staff & Security have emotionally intelligent and experienced Protection officers that can advise your HR teams who have the unpleasant responsibility to dismiss an employee. The duty of care relates to the HR team’s safety and to the employee who may lose control and get deeper into trouble by committing an assault in your meeting.
If you wish to know more or employ Eden’s security services, please contact Rick Mounfield, Eden’s Chartered Security Professional. [email protected] / 0207471 6000