Security Steps Employers Should Take Following a Dismissal

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Letting a team member go — whatever the reason — is never a pleasant task. Whether the employee has committed a form of misconduct, they’re no longer capable of meeting your company standards, or there’s simply no more room in the budget to keep them on — parting ways can be a complex process, and it deserves careful thought.

Note, too, that dismissing an employee doesn’t begin or end with them packing up their desk and leaving the building. There are several steps that you should take following a dismissal to keep your company’s tangible and digital data safe and your remaining team members comfortable and at ease. 

Even if the decision was amicable (or mutual), responsible employers need to take proper security measures to avoid frustration or negligence and to ensure the (former) employee does not become a risk.

Here are some steps you can take following a dismissal to ensure a smooth and safe process.

Retrieve Company Assets

Immediately retrieve all company assets, including cell phones, tablets, and laptops. Allowing the team member to hold onto these items following their termination offers them time to delete, steal or alter data. Further, recover all ID tags should your company use them to access the building. Allowing the team member to keep tags that enable swipe entry provides them with unlimited access to the office.

Review Access

Carefully review the accounts the team member had access to, cancelling their personal accounts (such as email accounts and access to company databases and software). Reset passwords to joint corporate accounts and subscriptions when necessary.

Shred Defunct Paperwork

Once the pertinent time has elapsed, secure the ongoing help of a reliable shredding service to dispose of defunct paperwork, including old contracts, business plans and payroll information. Paperwork should be retained for set periods per legal requirements, which will vary based on your location. 

For example, in the U.S., according to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, “if an employee is involuntarily terminated, his/her personnel records must be retained for one year from the date of termination.”

Shredding old business papers has multiple benefits:

  • It keeps the office clear of unnecessary clutter, improving efficiency and safety.
  • It can add to your green manifesto — reputable shredding companies recycle 100% of their paper.
  • It protects former team members from identity theft. Processing personal details properly will instill confidence — hearing of a data breach involving employee information can lead to a breakdown of trust.
  • It reduces an accelerated risk of fire.
  • Last, a pared-back compendium of paperwork reduces the risk of theft or corruption. By shredding papers that are no longer needed, you immediately remove an avenue for exploitation by a disgruntled ex-employee.

Communicate with Your Current Team

Hearing that a fellow team member has been dismissed will likely stir up concern, stress, and fear for current employees over their status in the company. Having a frank and honest conversation will allay apprehensions and allow you to share your expectations moving forward. 

Not only does open dialogue appease concerns, but it also offers you the opportunity to spread awareness. For example, your IT team can keep an eye on the ex-employee trying to gain remote access to company accounts, and your marketing team will be able to restrict access to socials.


Generally, dismissing a team member goes without issue. While there may be bad feelings, the individual will generally focus their energies on looking for new work. However, there’s always the potential for a team member to take umbrage with their firing and look for revenge. By getting your current team onboard, locking down access, shredding old paperwork and retrieving company assets, you’re immediately protecting your business and its existing team.