In the modern discussion on workplace security, the focus often centers around preventing active shootings and violence stemming from terminated or disgruntled employees. The article “Publicly Humiliating Events: A Precursor to Workplace Violence” by Karie Gibson, Lauren Brubaker and Andre Simons rightly highlights the crucial role that public humiliation plays in triggering such violent acts. However, beyond the immediate threat of homicide, there exists a broader spectrum of potential risks posed by former employees, including acts of sabotage, espionage, vandalism and cyberattacks, all of which demand attention and proactive measures from security professionals.

The prevalence of non-violent acts perpetrated by former employees is often underreported and underestimated, yet their impact can be just as devastating, if not more so, both financially and in terms of public safety. For example, consider the case of a terminated telecommunications employee who sabotaged a fiber trunk line, resulting in a catastrophic communications outage that not only incurred millions of dollars in damages and fines but tragically led to the loss of a life due to the inability to reach emergency services. Similarly, deliberate tampering with natural gas distribution lines by a former employee of a gas company led to unsafe conditions and significant financial losses.

While preventing workplace homicides remains paramount, it is imperative to adopt a holistic approach that encompasses all potential threats posed by terminated employees. While fostering a supportive workplace culture and providing training on respectful behavior are crucial steps in mitigating the risk of violence, additional measures are necessary to address the broader spectrum of potential threats.

Drawing from experience in critical infrastructure security, two key components emerge as essential supplements to traditional risk mitigation strategies: post-termination monitoring and the implementation of comprehensive “softeners” for separated employees.

Post-termination monitoring involves staying vigilant and maintaining contact with former employees, particularly those who exhibit red flag behaviors or indicators of potential risk. This monitoring should be conducted discreetly, utilizing covert methods such as social media surveillance to gather intelligence and detect any signs of retaliatory actions. In one notable instance, a former employee’s ex-girlfriend reported plans of sabotage, providing critical intelligence that enabled law enforcement to intervene and prevent a potentially catastrophic event. This underscores the importance of proactive monitoring and the value of leveraging external sources for threat detection.

Additionally, the implementation of robust softeners, including generous severance packages, counseling services and continuation of benefits, can help mitigate feelings of humiliation and resentment among separated employees. While these measures may entail significant costs, they pale in comparison to the potential repercussions of unchecked retaliation or violence.

By adopting a proactive and comprehensive approach to addressing workplace violence, organizations can better safeguard their employees, assets and reputation. Collaboration between security, human resources and leadership is essential in identifying, assessing and mitigating potential threats at every stage of the employment lifecycle. From pre-termination assessments to post-termination monitoring, it’s imperative to remain vigilant and responsive to evolving risks.

While the prevention of workplace homicides remains a critical priority, it’s essential to broaden our perspective and recognize the many forms of threats posed by former employees. By implementing proactive measures such as post-termination monitoring and comprehensive softeners, organizations can mitigate the risk of violence and create a safer, more secure work environment for all. By addressing the root causes of workplace violence, including feelings of humiliation and resentment, businesses can foster a culture of respect, empathy and accountability, ultimately reducing the likelihood of violent incidents and preserving the well-being of employees and the integrity of the organization.

Expanding on the concept of post-termination monitoring, it’s essential to consider the long-term implications and potential for escalation of risks. Former employees may harbor grievances or feelings of resentment that can fester over time, leading to retaliatory actions months or even years after their departure. As such, ongoing surveillance and intelligence gathering are crucial components of a comprehensive security strategy. By staying informed and proactive, organizations can detect and mitigate potential threats before they escalate into serious incidents.

Furthermore, the implementation of robust softeners should be tailored to individual circumstances and risk profiles. While generous severance packages and counseling services can help ease the transition for separated employees, additional measures such as job search assistance and continued access to company resources may also be warranted. By providing comprehensive support, organizations can demonstrate empathy and mitigate the risk of retaliation or malicious intent.

Moreover, proactive engagement with law enforcement and relevant regulatory agencies can enhance threat detection and response capabilities. By sharing intelligence and collaborating on risk assessments, organizations can leverage external expertise and resources to strengthen their security posture. Additionally, participation in industry-specific forums and information-sharing initiatives can provide valuable insights into emerging threats and best practices for prevention and mitigation.

Finally, ongoing training and education are essential components of a proactive security strategy. By raising awareness and empowering employees to recognize and report potential threats, organizations can create a culture of vigilance and accountability. Regular drills and simulations can help reinforce security protocols and ensure readiness in the event of an emergency all as part of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and Exercise program.

Addressing workplace violence requires a multifaceted approach that extends beyond traditional risk mitigation strategies. By adopting a holistic framework that encompasses proactive monitoring, comprehensive softeners, collaboration with external stakeholders and ongoing training and education, organizations can mitigate the risk of violence and create a safer, more secure work environment for all stakeholders. By investing in prevention and preparedness, businesses can safeguard their employees, assets and reputation, ultimately preserving their long-term viability and success.