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What To Do When a Disgruntled Employee Has Access to Important Info

By: Brian Flax

 

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Dealing with a disgruntled employee is never a fun experience, and there are steps that need to be taken to ensure that no confidential information finds its way into the wrong hands. This can be even harder to accomplish if the person has already been terminated. Small business owners, regardless of industry—you can be involved in Amarillo real estate or NYC fashion—need to protect the confidential information of both their business and clients, starting with requiring non-disclosure agreements before employment even begins.

 
Keep Things Professional
 
To keep a bad situation from escalating even further, try to remain as professional as possible. This means no yelling, swearing, or speaking in a condescending tone. Keep the lines of communication open, allowing the employee to discuss the situation up the chain of command. If possible, resolve the situation with dialogue. Lawsuits can be expensive, time consuming, and can ultimately hurt the business.
 
Don’t Make a Scene
 
Whenever a problem with an employee arises, it’s a good idea to resolve it right away. Ignoring an issue doesn’t solve anything, and may even make the situation worse. 
 
If the issue involves only one employee, don’t make a scene in front of the entire office. Discuss the situation behind closed doors or when others are not around. If there are rumors going around the office, address them right away to ensure other employees don’t get caught up in the drama.
 
Keep a Paper Trail
 
When dealing with a situation at work, it’s important for business owners to document everything. Keep a paper trail whenever possible, including conversations, emails, and any disciplinary action that was taken against the employee. This will help protect both the owner and the business from trivial lawsuits or unemployment cases. If warnings are given or disciplinary actions are taken, make sure the employee in questions signs the documentation in addition to the owner or manager. 
 
Remove Access to Computer Systems
 
When an employee is terminated for any reason, computer access including logins and passwords should be disabled immediately. Doing so will prevent the employee from going back and acquiring sensitive information that can be used against the business or its clients. Make sure all loaned equipment is collected before the employee is terminated, and remind them of any privacy agreements that were signed prior to beginning employment. 
 
Be Proactive
 
Although these types of situations are not always avoidable, it’s best to be as proactive as possible to protect the business. Do research about the character of a person before hiring them, including social media checks and phone conversations with previous employers and personal references. It’s also a good idea to run state and federal background checks before hiring a new employee. 
 
It’s also a great idea to have new hires sign privacy policies, non-disclosure agreements, and any other documents that prevent the unauthorized release of private information.
 
Dealing with a disgruntled employee or ex-employee can be a frustrating experience, but it’s important to keep communication open and conversation professional. Make sure any situation that arises is brought to attention immediately and that only the people involved are included in the conversations. Revoke access to sensitive information whenever it becomes a concern, and protect the business and its clients by requiring a non-disclosure agreement.
Published: November 13, 2013
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