Workplace Violence – Part 3 Active and Preemptive Intervention

Every organization should have open communication within the corporate structure.  This can be as simple as an open door policy (one that is stressed and communicated to all employees) to an anonymous hotline.  Human Resources or the hiring manager can also be a point of contact.

Workplace Violence 4

All levels of management and supervision have to be observant and constantly listening to their subordinates.  When they pay attention to their associates they would be the first line of defense to a potential employee challenge.  They should note changes in an employees work performance.  Any noticeable decline could indicate a “stress point”.  They need to be listening to an associate’s verbalization.  How do they interact with fellow associates?  Do they have temper outbursts?  Is an associate going through a divorce or other domestic change?  These are all precursors to potential escalations.

 

Managers need to interact with associates on a regular basis.   It is good for morale.  It also builds a rapport between management and associates and encourages a dialogue.

 

If there are indicators of a potential problem, management must begin to monitor, document and possibly intervene.   Early intervention can be as simple as asking the employee how they are doing.  A more direct intervention is possible where the contact is made as a “coaching” session.

 

Managers and supervisors must also be alert to signals of challenges from people outside the workplace.  Are any customers upset with your organization?  Have they directed any threats towards the organization or employees verbally or in writing?  These incidents must be documented.  Repeated threats should be reported to your loss prevention or security department.  In absence of an in place security department, the local law enforcement agency should be notified.  Should there be a person on premise that is acting out verbally and or physically, the local law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately.

 

We are all creatures of habit.  The easiest way to spot warning signs is when that person steps out of habit.  Employers should be aware of any changes or concerning behavior of its workforce, customers and visitors.

Workplace Violence – Part Two

Do you have employees or customers that are prone to workplace violence?

Do you have employees or customers that are ticking time bombs?

In the first segment, it was discussed the importance defining and identifying workplace violence and related behavior.  In this segment we will discuss the foundation to prevention of incidents and response to incidents.

The first thing an organization must do is implement a policy on workplace violence.  The policy must define actions and activity that is prohibited in the workplace.   The policy must also firmly state the disciplinary action.  The policy must be a “zero tolerance” policy.  It is important is that all levels of management know the policy, sign off on the policy and support the policy 100%.

A secondary part of workplace violence prevention is conducting background checks on applicants.  This should include checks for criminal and civil history.  Verification should also be made with previous employers, educational institutions and references.  Background investigations combined with behavioral interviewing of applicants will help you hire the best candidate for the position.

It is also important your organization requires an employee to provide you with a copy of any Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or Order of Protection (OOP).  By having an order in hand, on site security and management are aware of the situation.  Security and management are also alerted to the identity of the subject or subjects involved.  Having a copy on file assists local law enforcement if necessary.

It is very important that all of management and key individuals within an organization receive training on behavioral management.  This training will assist an organization with identifying employees that maybe of risk for workplace violence.  Management and supervisors should always be alert to changes in behavior, dress, absences and work performance.  These could be indicators of a much larger problem.  Not only will this assist with employees, but it will also help in identifying potential risks from visitors to the workplace.

Finally, does your organization have an Employee Assistance Program as part of benefits?  The access to such a program may assist with the retention of a valuable employee.

For assistance with a workplace violence program, contact the Southwest Group at 1-888-947-4717.

Workplace Violence – Part One

Workplace Violence

Understanding the problem of workplace violence is the first step to a solution

Over the past few years there have been numerous high profile incidents of workplace violence.  They have gone from a level of an extension of domestic violence between spouses or partners, to large scale incidents at schools, malls and even churches.  Anyone can analyze an event when they have time and can focus on an individual.  The truth of the matter is the analysis of the offender has been going on long before an incident.  People, management, behavioral professionals and in some cases, even law enforcement had information there was something wrong, long before the violent incident occurred.  The breakdown occurred when the information was ignored, discounted, and available processes were not enacted.

This discussion will be directed towards the workplace organizations.  It is not possible to eliminate all violence issues from the workplace.  It is possible however to minimize the risks and provide a course of action for identification and intervention.  This subject will be broken down into three selected parts.  The first part will be helping an organization to define workplace violence.  The second segment will cover policy and training.  The third segment will deal with active intervention.  The fourth segment will cover active incident response and preparing for the aftermath.

Workplace violence can be defined as the following:

Any action, incident, or threat that departs from reasonable conduct in which a person is assaulted, threatened, harmed, injured in the course of, or as a direct result of, his or her work.  Workplace violence includes:

  • Threatening behavior – such as shaking fists, destroying property or throwing objects.
  • Verbal or written threats – any expression of intent to inflict harm.
  • Harassment – any behavior that demeans, embarrasses, humiliates, annoys, alarms or verbally abuses a person and that is known or would be expected to be unwelcome. This includes words, gestures, intimidation, bullying, or other inappropriate activities.
  • Verbal abuse – swearing, insults or condescending language.
  • Physical attacks – hitting, shoving, pushing or kicking.

Workplace violence is not limited to incidents that occur within a traditional workplace. Work-related violence can occur at off-site business-related functions (conferences, trade shows), at social events related to work, in clients’ homes, or away from work but resulting from work (a threatening telephone call to your home from a client).

As you can see, workplace violence entails a broad spectrum of incidents and actions.  An organization must be prepared to deal with these situations.  We will discuss the foundations for an organization in the next segment.