Sometimes, a disgruntled employee poses the greatest risk to a company. When an employee loses royalty toward the company because the employee is mistreated, is given the employment termination notice, disagrees with management over something, or just loses some employment benefits like medical insurance, performance bonus, stock options and 401K matching or value due to reduce stock price, the employee may become disgruntled toward the company and some of its management members. Many times, employees don’t know how to handle such situations and become irrational resorting to violence in the workplace and the society, family abuse, and sabotage or theft of the company assets to name a few.
A disgruntled employee is very unpredictable in terms of the behavior as each person reacts to life pressures differently. In times of downward economy when people lose their jobs, homes and their savings accounts, they start having issues with their family members, the society, the government, and the company they worked for so many years. Everyone handles such life situations differently. Although some become creative and successful as a result of these pressures, many feel cornered and start behaving carelessly, unpredictably and dangerously toward others.
I heard somewhere that certain people accumulate huge wealth and start successful businesses due to recessions and out of desperation. I guess we could say a recession brings the best out of some people in terms new ideas, creativity and increased contribution to the society. On the other hand, others who may not know the techniques to deal with life pressures end up desperately violent and sometimes kill their families before killing themselves. How many times have we heard of an ex-employee returning to the company with the goal to kill every one he blames for his misfortune? I just keep hearing news of people killing their entire families and others before killing themselves due to some financial pressures, lost jobs and vanished savings and home values. A person does not become a killer overnight and there are always disturbing signs that could and should be detected by people close to the person in order to avoid potentially dangerous behavior that could lead to disasters.
You may wonder what a company could do to deal with a disgruntled employee. For one thing, companies should avoid creating disgruntled employees by being sensitive to the employee needs as well as their own business needs. When companies go through huge changes such as massive restructuring of the organization or its benefit plans, especially when the change impacts a huge number of company population, they must consider a disgruntled employee a possible business risk and threat. Such risks must be handled like any other business risks. One way to handle this risk is to get a corporate psychologist involved in the process. During most layoffs, every one from Human Resources, the Legal group, to operations management is involved in the process, but how much do these people know about managing human behavior during a huge corporate undertaking such as a layoff that impacts hundreds or thousands of employees? An orderly corporate change requires human behavior management to reduce the business risks during the entire process. Such human management requires effective communications by certified corporate psychologists and pre and post layoff support that also serve the employee interests and not solely the business interests, although managing employee interests ultimately serves business interests by reducing the business risks. Companies must also monitor employee activities and pay attention to the asset protection safeguards to reduce the risks that could arise from disturbed employees.
As I mentioned, one of the biggest risks of a disgruntled employee is sabotage and theft of corporate assets. Many employees have unrestricted access to corporate systems and physical assets. In my professional experience, I have witnessed unauthorized distribution of payroll files disclosing all salaries to the insiders as well as outsiders, sale of customer and employee personal information, and even piracy of movies and other digital assets. Although, some of these illegal actions are greed driven, others have no financial value to the perpetrator other than personal satisfaction and revenge. During times of rapid business changes, companies must be sensitive to the employee situations and properly handle their mental state before it’s too late. Sometimes, when the damage is inflicted, it’s really hard if not impossible to reverse it. For example, when a payroll file is distributed on the Internet, it’s impossible to collect all distributed copies, and sometimes even people die as a result of a disturbed and disgruntled employee.
In conclusion, many options are available when considering the risks associated with disgruntled employees including but not limited to employee behavior management, increased security of assets, and monitoring of employee activities in and out of the critical systems. Even when there are no major business changes, companies must pay close attention to isolated disputes, complaints and reports of strange behaviors in order to detect and defuse a potential business threat arising from a disgruntled employee.