The recent shooting incident reported in Dammam, where a dismissed Saudi employee shot three of his former colleagues, has raised the alarm about how to deal with sacked employees. A Saudi man was killed and two Asian nationals were injured in the attack; one of them is in critical condition. There are no accurate statistics about violence at work, but according to numerous human resources managers interviewed, it happens frequently.
A Saudi boss interviewed who did not want to mention his name recalled an incident that happened with an employee he fired because of his lack of productivity. He said that three days after he had fired him, the employee showed up in a restaurant and attacked him. People at the restaurant jumped to his defense. “The sacked employee was waiting for me at the restaurant, because he knew it was my favorite and I always buy from it on Fridays. He attacked me in front of my children. I was slightly injured and reported the incident to police, who took action against him,” said the boss. Human resource managers confirmed that some employees might resort to violence if they are fired. They said that firing an employee was a skill that bosses and HR personnel urgently needed to learn to avoid violent reactions. Khaled Hassan Al-Ghamdi, an HR consultant at a private company, said, “The first step is to familiarize the employee with the company policies and the dos and dont's. Each company has its own policies that outline the company’s discipline process, behavior at work, and other rules. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have these rules printed for their employees. Big companies always provide their new employees with the company rules, so if there is any problem or warning, it is clear why it happens.” He added, “Previously, I worked for two companies. Both were not strict on providing employees with the company policy.
Employees were committing violations, because they did not know the rules and regulations. Whenever the company passed a warning to them, they resented it and claimed they were victims. When they got fired as a result, most of the time it got ugly and physical.” Majid Qaroub, a Saudi lawyer, has received countless cases involving employees wanting to settle the score with former employers in court. “The law of labor office in Saudi Arabia urges all companies to follow specific procedures before terminating an employee’s contract. For example, companies must give one verbal warning, one written warning, and can then terminate the contract after the next incident. The company should develop forms for both verbal and written warnings that supervisors can use. The boss and HR employee are required to document any verbal warnings that are given to the employee, so the employee will have an idea about his weakness and the reasons that may lead to his dismissal,” said Qaroub. He added, “Although the Saudi law ensures the right of employees, in case they get fired, most companies still don’t apply the law. This is why some employees tend to react strongly against their companies, bosses and colleagues. However, the tough reaction is not acceptable at all in any company.” Buthina Shaaban, a psychological expert, confirmed that bosses and companies had to understand the psychology of their employees and deal with them based on their personality. “There is a dramatic increase in violent reactions against companies and bosses in America and the Middle East for financial and social reasons. When managers talk to employees, they should be calm and objective and never make it personal. Managers should be gentle when they tell their employees about their unsatisfactory work. Employees should also drop their ego and be receptive to professional criticism,” added Shaaban.