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.