Workplace Violence: Is it something that social media and news outlets have normalized within our culture? Current statistics state that over the course of a year, an average of 15 people will lose their lives because of workplace violence, and a staggering 38,500 employees will be attacked from perpetrators while on the job.
Yet, while this problem continues to ravage the workforce, 70% of U.S. businesses have no plan in place to protect their employees or customers. Workplace violence experts Jeffrey M Miller and Robert Sollars stopped by the Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization show this week to discuss why workplace violence is on the rise and what companies must do to anticipate, prevent, and neutralize its risk to ensure everyone's safety and well-being.
One of my biggest questions for the duo is whether they believe that workplace violence is really on the rise these days or if we are just made more aware because of the media blaring continuous feeds of violent actions through youtube, television, and various internet platforms. As a culture with constant access to every breaking story, no matter how recent or simply recycled it is, have we become so desensitized that we think workplace violence is an issue undeserving of awareness in our lives?
As someone who’s quite an authority on the subject, Jeffrey gives us the answers to these questions. CEO of WCI Consulting, Jeffrey focuses on creating threat management systems within businesses to help employees survive and suffer reduced injury in the event of a workplace attack. Helping businesses to define and put into practice specific emergency procedures as well as teaching them to notice and react properly to early warning signs, is what he does best.
Additionally, Robert’s 36 years in the security field combined with his in-depth knowledge of the vast amount of early warning indicators in a disgruntled or disrupted individual makes him an equal authority on the posed question.
The consensus between both men is that protecting the workplace from violence starts with assessing your company’s individual needs and determining the issues most likely to arise.
While acts of workplace violence may seem random, often they are not, and there are hundreds of signs and indicators that should set off warning signals and aid in the prevention of these types of attacks.
Prevention doesn’t simply start with co-workers reporting possible causes for concern, such as angry or resentful comments, violent obsessions, or sudden and unusual behaviors. As far as Robert is concerned, prevention starts right at the beginning of an employee’s relationship with the company - the hiring process. Businesses need to know who they are hiring, no matter what level or type of business they are.
On the opposite end of things, businesses can’t simply put zero tolerance and no weapons policies in place and expect that to be enough. If a perpetrator of workplace violence feels wronged in some way and is seeking to take action, the only thing a “no weapons on premises” sign is going to do is tell them that nobody on the inside is armed and able to properly defend themselves against an assault.
It would seem that having a threat assessment plan or team in place to discuss and monitor employees exhibiting one or many of what Robert calls the “24 Warning Sign” behaviors, while also tracking to see if there is an aggressive progression of the behavior and then, if needed, decide upon a course of corrective action before the employee reaches a point of no return would be ideal as a more effective preventative solution than a write-up or paragraph in the employee handbook.
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