Don't get mad, get even

Jul 24 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The UK’s bosses might want to start looking over their shoulders. Over half of their employees would take revenge if they felt that they had lost their job unfairly, many finding ways to get even that have financial implications for an ex-employer.

One in three would badmouth their former company, almost one in four would taking customer leads, while one in ten would sign their ex-boss up to an X-rated mailing list or send unpleasant emails.

But as well damaging a company's reputation, the survey by software outfit Novell suggests that disgruntled ex-employees could cost their former firms "millions" by continuing to use company resources and benefits that have not been stopped when they leave.

Almost six out of ten would continue to use company mobile phones, something Novell prices at a potential cost to UK industry of more than £1m per week.

More than half would carry on accessing the corporate IT network, and continue to take advantage of their season ticket, company car, laptop and gym membership if they were able to get away with it.

Slack security procedures in many organisations make it all-too easy for ex-employees to take revenge, Novell say.

Having being told they had lost their job, two thirds of those surveyed would take information that would help them with their next job and examples of their best work. And a whopping eight out of ten people said that if requested, they would forward company sensitive information to a former colleague, even if they were now working for a rival firm.

All this is hardly surprising, Novell argues, given the way that employers treat their staff. Botched redundancy announcements and workers being informed of their job loss by text message or voicemail while failed bosses pick up millions in ‘golden goodbyes’ do little to breed loyalty amongst employers – as a number of other surveys have recently highlighted.

The scale of the potential problem here can be gauged from official figures revealing that more than 460,000 people leave their employers for one reason or another every month.

"Losing your job is upsetting whatever the circumstances and it is vital that employers handle the situation with professionalism and sensitivity," said Steve Brown, UK MD of Novell.

"What concerns me most about this survey is the impact that former employees could have on the remaining staff. The costs will be felt throughout an organisation and could impact on pay, bonuses and benefits. Many organisations are like leaky buckets and companies need to start plugging the holes in their organisations to ensure that they are water tight when an employee leaves."