News of disgruntled employees seeking revenge against employers and coworkers is on the rise. More and more, employees use violence and deadly force at the workplace. News of workplace violence appears almost daily in the headlines or on social media. Based on real or perceived wrongs, employees use violence at work to settle their scores.
What We Can Do
Aggressive behavior often takes time to build. Employees becoming agitated will usually begin to show warning signs. Warning signs may include:
- Trouble with coworkers or supervisors
- Domestic problems spilling into the workplace
- Substance abuse issues
- Aggressive outbursts
Some companies use proactive methods to get to know their employees. Working to identify these issues may help avoid trouble later on. Many more companies use a wait-and-see approach, risking catastrophic consequences. Employers may fear legal culpability should intervention measures fail. If an employee became violent after company involvement, they may face accusations. Should the company overreact with an employee instead, they may face discrimination charges.
The increase in workplace violence calls for a change. Employers must abandon the wait-and-see policy in favor of proactive measures. Failure to act may result in terror and violence. No one can predict when and where violence will strike. Still, there are certain ways you can prepare. Protect yourself against workplace violence with these 5 steps:
1. Employee Training
Employee training provides the most-effective measure in the event a worker turns violent. You may also consider engaging a professional security expert. Security experts take employees through drills simulating active shooter scenarios and provide training. These experts claim two types of employee training exist for countering this threat:
- Prevention. Train your employees to be proactive in preventing workplace violence. Employees are a ground-level resource for identifying potential indications of violence in colleagues. Employees can report suspicious activities or behavior matter to management for follow-up.
- Protection. Train your employees on how to protect themselves if violence erupts. Employers can access The Department of Homeland Security’s “Run, Hide and Fight’’ video for training. The video details tools to best to survive an active shooter scenario. It offers practical advice on how to handle the situation, and to come out alive.
2. Be Vigilant
Many active shooters are still employees of the company when they begin shooting. It may be a snap decision due to an event at the workplace or premeditated. In both cases, certain actions or events may point to violence before it happens.
These may be aggressive habits or behaviors, threats, intimidation, or a focus on certain employees. Proper policies and procedures can help prevent violent behavior before it occurs in the workplace. Monitor terminated employees until they leave the premises.
3. Be Aware
If a staff member is in trouble with the law, take it upon yourself to find out why. It may be innocent, or it may be indicative of future workplace woes. Employees dealing with court and family matters may be more prone to acting out in the workplace.
Special considerations may be necessary to avert any issues at work. Employees suffering outside stress may need attention. In some cases, time off, counseling, or reduced workload can ease their burden.
4. Encourage Communication
Open workplace communication can help identify any risks or concerns. Openly-shared information about workplace dissatisfaction or domestic troubles can help you best respond. Keep your security team informed, and ensure you are attentive to employee needs and concerns.
5. Develop An EAP (Emergency Action Plan)
Any company with over 10 employees should develop an Emergency Activity Plan (EAP). An EAP guides users on the best procedure for dealing with an emergency. EAPs cover any number of general emergencies, and emergencies specific to your business. Your own EAP can include what to do in case of an active shooter. An active shooter EAP can outline employee actions, assembly points, and other useful material. Emergency Action Plans should include drills to familiarize employees in case of violence.
Employees need training on how to respond to active shooters now more than ever before. No single strategy or plan is perfect, but planning and training can help you avoid tragedy.
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