There is a certain element of danger when it comes to terminating the employment of a high-risk individual and can prove to be an elusive behavior to identify initially. When someone is losing their job, the individual feels an extreme sense of desperation which can lead to detrimental and maladaptive situations in the workplace.

There are two types of terminations that should be considered high risk, according to Robert Shuster, vice president of Protective Service and Training at the AFI International and International Assistance Corporation (AFIMAC).

“One is when aggressive behavior by an individual violates workplace violence policies or elevates to an unacceptable level and the person has to be terminated due to that behavior,” stated Shuster in a 2014 article. “The second type may contain the same aggressive behavioral indicators. However, in some of these cases, there will be indications of stress-induced aggressiveness which then serve as a red flag.”

A lot of major companies have programs and procedures in place to address unacceptable aggressiveness in the workplace. The human resources staff is usually the first to be contacted in a situation where the employee’s performance has rapidly deteriorated and triggering them to possible act in an irrational way to resolve their personal issues.

Success in preventing workplace violence hinges upon many factors including intelligent response and observation, as well as using team-based resources including counseling and treatment. Shuster stated that some cases are easier to identify than others and workplace violence prevention programs do not address.

“In this type, the person has displayed continuously deteriorating work performance, in spite of progressive counseling and this leads to the termination requirement,” he stated. “What makes this situation high risk is that the underlying causes for the deteriorating work performance can also be hidden contributors toward that person’s potential to react violently during the termination itself. Furthermore, they can feel an extreme sense of desperation in the time after losing that job which can lead to problems as well, just when you thought it was over.”

Various management techniques incorporating administrative, security, information and mental health can help stabilize an employee and get them back to a level of acceptable performance in the workplace. Measures like performance improvement plans, coaching meetings, as well as human supervision and treatment can redirect this negative behavior, according to Dr. Steve Albrecht, a workplace violence expert. He is internationally-recognized for his expertise in high-risk human resources issues.

“We will never know what security device, procedure, situational awareness or act of vigilance drives some subjects away from violence,” he stated.

Heightened security measures which Human Resources or other key organizational personnel should consider include: consultation by security professionals specialized in employee discharge cases, discharge plan management; armed or unarmed security personnel; access control and monitoring; surveillance;  law enforcement coordination; as well internal development of plans to handle such risks prior to the event.

“Increasing the site’s security staffing levels with armed and unarmed officers can provide more observation, calm employee fears and demonstrate due diligence,” stated Albrecht. “Yet a vexing question exists: How long do we keep armed security in the lobby or in the building? What is the appropriate amount of time after a high-risk termination?”

Violence is “typically a process, not an isolated event,” according to Shuster.

“The violence process usually has behavioral red flags along the way and tis is what thorough workplace violence training often outlines. Therefore, your termination process protocols should address not only the obvious high risk drop off in performance so substantial and out of character that it results in the need for termination. Perhaps the real reasons for that performance drop off are so personally server end so devastating, that they could also represent a danger for a violent reaction to the loss of employment.”


STT Security and Investigative Services has handled hundreds of employee discharge cases for clients throughout the United States. Call today for a free consultation.