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Catalysts that trigger incidents of workplace violence vary greatly and do not always involve the actions of an employee or employer. However, most experienced HR professionals have seen first-hand a violent reaction of an individual employee who has just been reprimanded, disciplined, or terminated.
To ensure that a termination meeting is as trouble-free as possible and, therefore, less likely to lead to a violent outburst or confrontation, HR professionals should conduct meetings consistently and, if possible, according to a “script” to make sure that all points are effectively covered. This does two things: It increases the HR practitioner’s comfort level because everything is written down in a checklist-type format; secondly, it increases the comfort level of the employee because the meeting will (hopefully) be smooth, unintimidating, and unemotional. To conduct a trouble-free—and therefore, incident-free—termination, direct the meeting in the following sequence:
If the termination involves an individual who has exhibited violent, disruptive, or otherwise inappropriate behavior in the past, security (or, in extreme situations, local law enforcement) should be placed on standby to avoid a time lapse between any possible violent reaction from the employee and assistance in containing that violence.
Excerpted from Maria Greco Danaher, Give Your Company a Fighting Chance: An HR Guide to Understanding and Preventing Workplace Violence (SHRM, 2015).
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