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.