3 Ways to Prevent Workplace Violence
The mainstream media would have us believe that it’s impossible to prevent workplace violence, and that incidents happen all the time.
While the statistics don’t support that you are very likely to be the victim of an active shooter or that office violence is running rampant, it still pays to be prepared and do everything you can to prevent workplace violence.
Background Checks Prevent Workplace Violence
This is one thing that cannot be stressed enough. All employers should be running some level of criminal background check on every employee. They prevent workplace violence by keeping people with a history of violence from being hired in the first place. For example, the recent workplace shooter in Hesston, Kansas was a convicted felon who had just been served a protective order. Where was the background check? Background checks need to be done properly. When they are, they are probably the single most cost-effective and easiest way tool employers have to prevent workplace violence.
Good HR Policies Can Prevent Workplace Violence
Workplace violence can come poor or non-existent human resources (HR) policies. If employees do not feel that they are being treated fairly or that they have an outlet for their grievances, frustration and anger over miscommunication and/or the appearance of apathy can build into workplace violence. Good HR policies where employees are communicated with and their grievances, as well as personal concerns, are addressed in a fair manner can go a long way to prevent workplace violence. Some of the HR policies that I recommend are:
- An Employee Awareness Line
- Handling Terminations Properly
- Zero Tolerance on Workplace Bullying
Watching for Warning Signs Can Prevent Workplace Violence
Workplace violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum. People don’t just wake up one day and decide to be violent. As we have seen in the news, there are a number of warning signs that, if observed beforehand, can prevent workplace violence by identifying the person’s path and intervening as appropriate. Some of the warning signs to look for are:
- Threats, particularly when directed at a specific person
- Fascination with weapons and/or violent acts
- History of violent behavior
Its important to note with these, and other “warning behaviors” that they should be of greatest concern when they appear in clusters.
For example, the office “gun nut” who enjoys exercising his 2nd Amendment rights is far less likely to be the next active shooter than the person who feels they have lost everything, blames it on a specific supervisor, and has now suddenly developed a weapons fascination where none existed before…
In that case, an employer should be very concerned about how to prevent workplace violence.
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