What are the security implications of a reduction in force or downsizing? In a webinar, Andrew Baer, Andrew Baer CPP, PSP, Director of Global Security for Weatherford International, explored the nexus between market driven reduction in force (RIF) and expansion in force (EIF) exercises and the risk of violence impacting an organization. 

The presentation explored the stressors employees are exposed to in adverse market conditions and how these can compound to create potentially lethal situations in the workplace and cause unacceptable levels of exposure for a company.

What is a company to an employee? It varies, but it means financial security, medical insurance, educational abilities, and their ability to provide for their families. It also offers them a community for Engagement, Companionship and Friendship. “We make friends with the people that we work with because that’s where we spend a lot of our time,” he said.  

So when an employee loses his/her job due corporate downsizing, they often are embarrassed, sad, anxious and hurt, which can turn into anger and make them be vengeful.  “If I am employed I have a goal and a future,” Baer said. “I’m needed. When you take that away, people feel they are no longer needed and are cast aside.”

To reduce the risks associated with reduction in force and corporate downsizing, Baer recommended that security looks for certain indicators in employees, such as:

  • Increase in disobedience and failure to comply issues 
  • Increase in belligerence and inappropriate responses to trivial matters 
  • Increase in safety violations where previously not present 
  • Vandalism and graffiti 
  • Anonymous reports of concerns regarding co-workers 
  • Specific and non-specific threats to harm/damage 
  • Recent or increased obsession/pre-occupation with weapons/violence 


Other risk factors and behaviors include:

  • History of violent behavior
  • Direct or veiled threats
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Impulsive
  • Loner
  • Any extreme changes in behavior
  • Intimidation
  • Tests limits of accepted behavior


Baer recommended that security take a proactive and safe separations approach before terminations are done that includes:

  • Executive and management physical and online security reviews conducted
  • Families briefed as necessary
  • Risk based mail handling measures implemented
  • Social media monitoring program activated
  • Frontline reception (main lines) to be briefed on phone threat procedures
  • Facilities to be locked down and positive access controls implemented
  • Guarding review to be undertaken at major facilities and sites of concern
  • Off duty law enforcement personnel deployed on as-needed basis
  • Outreach program to known persons of concern


Overall, he said, “We can break the mold to offer ‘soft landings.’ If you have someone that poses a significant risk and you can impose a soft landing, such as extending their medical benefits, and while there is a slight out of pocket cost, that pales in comparison to that person acting out and negatively impacting the workplace.”