The internet is full of amazing articles about the importance of having an office full of happy employees. It’s the secret to success. After all, happy employees are productive employees, bouncing into work on a Monday morning and dancing through to the close of play on Friday. But what no one tells you is how bad the flipside of that coin can be. Yup. We’re talking about how disgruntled employees can really screw over a company and its reputation.

Take the Ashley Madison fiasco that took place a couple of years ago, where the information of 37 million users was put at risk, as well as the $100 million market value. And for what? Because some former employee was miffed about this or that. Can you imagine that happening to your business. You would be raging and worried, so much so you’d probably be on the phone to your lawyers as you sped home, which could add an email to the people at to the to-do list as you get done for distracted driving. Basically, it’s a bad day when this sort of thing goes down.

This begs the question: what can you – the boss – do to make sure their company is safe from the wrath of a miffed former employee?

1. Think Before You Act

Most irate former employees get that ire from being fired. That’s why you need to make sure you protect yourself before pulling the trigger on an employee of yours. You need to stack the legal deck in your favour before you act. It’s as simple as that. Come up with a prevention plan that makes sure no employee can be surprised if they get the boot. Mmm hmmm. This means detailing everything you expect from them, providing feedback often and what happens when people underperform.

2. Fire People With A Smile

Whatever you do, hold the urge to slam the door behind people on their way out. This starts by consulting an employment lawyer and making sure you are following best practises. Once you are clear on the laws, your best bet is to write a termination letter and hand it to them in a face to face meeting. Outline exactly why you are letting them go, with the law in mind, and then let them have their say. Don’t debate, just listen. The less you say, the less there is to hold against you.

3. Severance Requires Smarts

There is no point beating around the bush here: a generous severance package will go a long way in pleasing an employee you need to let go, so make sure you have that available and pair it with a non-disclosure agreement. This will discourage an employer from bad-mouthing you. That said, handing someone an NDA could lead them to believe their frustrations carry more weight and that you are just trying to buy your way out. It’s also tough to prove a former employee said anything should they break the agreements laid out.

Apart from this, the only other thing you need to have in place is a system to clean up a mess of this scale. Preparation is the key.