Employee turnover happens, doesn’t it? It’s an unfortunate byproduct of being a business owner. Not everyone’s finish line is your finish line. But you probably learned that long ago. No matter what type of internal culture you have, employee turnover is something that you’re going to have to deal with. But disgruntled employees leaving your organization can be messy if not approached the right way. For every employee exit, there should be a very diligent, carefully planned exit process. This process, from a technology perspective, will involve the returning and careful clearing of all company data from mobile devices, tablets and, of course, the returning of any company property. While this process goes smoothly the majority of the time, in the case of a disgruntled employee that isn’t leaving on ideal terms, many things can happen that can compromise your organization’s reputation and even put your company out of business? What are the ways that disgruntled employees can put you out of business? Here are a few:
- Stealing your intellectual property
From your patents to your top secret projects, your intellectual property is, in many cases, what distinguishes you from your competition. In order to protect that intellectual property, many companies make employees sign noncompete agreements or nondisclosure agreements. However, it still happens in many cases that these agreements are thrown out the window when an employee leaves your company on bad terms. Whether it’s saving spreadsheets or other company data on a USB drive or e-mailing files through their personal e-mail - if you don’t have the right processes in place, odds are good that a disgruntled employee will attempt to steal your intellectual property in an effort to secure a position at a competing company.
- Steal your clients contact lists and export customer lists
Your clients and customers are loyal, but you definitely don’t want all their names and contact information going to your competitors. Very often it happens that employees leave an organization and export customer list from line of business software or e-mail marketing programs. Having a process in place for changing credentials when an employee is going to be let go or you suspect that they will be leaving is critical to avoid your contact lists going to your competition when employees leave.
- Steal spreadsheets, business processes or workflow documents
Many companies work very hard to ensure that their processes are refined completely. There are often documents involved that help them to be more efficient and execute those processes. When employees are let go, often they will take copies of spreadsheets with them to help them secure employment at your competition with thumb drives or by em-mailing files through their personal e-mail.
How can this put you out of business? A competing company having your intellectual property, customer lists or workflow documents means losing your competitive edge. When the very thing that made you unique and all your customer information gets leaked to your competition, you can almost assuredly guarantee that you’re going to lose money; it’s just a matter of how much. Many companies have approached us after they’ve had data, intellectual property or company documents stolen - but the best action to take would be proactive measures. Get a clear policy and process for off boarding your employees when they are let go so that you can minimize collateral damage from disgruntled employees and avoid being put out of business by their actions.