Fired Woman

When employees crack: high profile resignations

Christina Bruce|

What the heck goes on in there?

When someone leaves a job and publicly blasts their former employer, the sentiment is bound to cross your mind. From corporate giants to disgruntled floor workers, quitting in the viral era is an entirely different beast.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is the latest executive to make waves for her high profile departure. Her very public comments about the state of the company included calling the board “doofuses” and stating that Yahoo “f***ed her over”.

Bartz was reportedly fired over the phone, a questionable practice that might have made Yahoo look worse if the action weren’t overshadowed by Bartz’s over-the-top public rant.

There have been those that garnered a little more credibility in the public eye. Earlier this year, a senior executive at Canada’s golden child RIM wrote a revealing open letter articulating the very management problems that the public had already suspected.

And who can forget the disgruntled Whole Foodsemployee from Toronto who wrote a 2000-plus-word resignation letter that spread like virtual chicken pox. The letter blasted Whole Foods for intentionally overstocking shelves with unhealthy products and doing no review whatsoever of the products it sells—a particularly damaging claim for this kind of business.

Much like the foot-in-mouth Bartz, his credibility loses steam when he starts complaining about having to be to work on time (the horror), and takes mean-spirited  pot shots at fellow employees.

If this were to happen in your business, how do you handle the situation?

Here is a 5-step plan to managing a high profile exit:



1)      Assess the allegations


First and foremost, take each case individually and assess how much weight should be put in their claims. Was this a model employee? Senior management? What was their role and history? Assess the impact this could this have on your current employees before you take any action.


2)      Put the kibosh on negative PR


The public loves gossip. A story like the ones mentioned can go viral VERY quickly, and if it does, a response might just be necessary. Resist the urge to tell your company’s side of the story to anyone that will listen, and maintain professionalism at all times. Consult a PR professional if you’re really worried about the impact to your company’s reputation.


3)      Take some claims seriously


Sometimes, no matter how angry or irrational an ex-employee may sound, claims need to be taken seriously. Any claims of serious misconduct, mistreatment, harassment, or bullying need to be thoroughly investigated.


4)      Internal damage control


If the allegations are found to be nothing more than the angered ramblings of a disgruntled employee, avoid discussing the situation in the office. “If HR finds that nothing stated in the resignation has merit, then giving it any attention will not have a positive effect and will send the message that this type of behaviour is acceptable, ” says Adriana Correale, Employee Relations Specialist at Accenture.


5)      Focus on the future


Nothing shifts eyes away an unfortunate negative incident like something (or someone) new. Ramp up your recruitment efforts to find a replacement and shift the focus to something positive.

More often than not, when somebody sticks around to their breaking point and leaves in a loud and public manner, the problems have been brewing a long time. Keep your eyes open and communication flowing and you’ll be less likely to encounter this worst-case scenario.



Category: Human Resources, Industry News & Insights, Recruitment Challenges,