HR Strategy

An Employer's First Steps to Avoiding Workplace Violence

By

Caleb Masters

| May 7, 2018

In the wake of workplace threats nationwide, businesses are taking a closer look at their own threat and crisis management plans and policies. HR is an essential component in planning for workplace emergencies, from the conceptual stages to employee training.

Larry Barton, the highest-rated instructor at the FBI National Academy and U.S. Marshals Service, recently joined the HR Break Room podcast to discuss how organizations can better prepare themselves. Here are a few highlights from the episode’s conversation. While all of us get upset at work from time to time, not everyone exhibits warning signs – such as a manifesto or incendiary posts on social media – that indicate a future threat.

You will want to look out for behavior that suggests potential for risk, especially emerging in clusters, such as:

  • anger
  • constant distress
  • “no call, no show” absences
  • a rapid change in appearance

All employees should be encouraged that if they see something, they should say something to the leaders who can assist. Barton further encouraged the parties behind the initial reports to follow up and ensure that correct departments follow through, HR included.

Listen to the full HR Break Room conversation with Larry Barton in the episode “Safety First: Proactive Crisis Management”

Training and communication are essential

 Training is particularly vital for managers and supervisors. Holding half- or full-day training sessions that include case studies, multiple threat scenarios and role-playing can be particularly effective in preparing your organization for the worst.

Clearly communicating and empathizing with employees is a small, but important step in helping minimize a workplace crisis. In the HR Break Room discussion, Barton noted that he frequently hears participants say, “Wow, now I understand why words matter.”

“We can soften our words,” Barton said. For example, instead of ‘termination’ use ‘separation.’ “When former employees have to take home bad news to their family, they would use the word ‘termination,’ as if it was something they could not come back from.”

No matter the circumstance, always treat former employees with the same respect you did when they started the onboarding process. Avoid being clinical, and practice ways to deliver upsetting news empathetically. Softening upsetting language and respecting employees minimizes the likelihood of disgruntlement.

Ensure your physical facility is secure

 A secure facility is critical to protecting your people, and helps them feel comfortable at work. Security cameras, badge control and multi-tenant buildings patrolled by skilled officers are all staples of sound workplace security – this is true for all buildings, including high-rises, shopping malls and even underground facilities. It’s important that all employees and security officers have a sense of intuition that keeps them alert and aware. If security is in-house, make sure to include physical fitness tests and psychological exams in your screening and training processes.

If you have no security at your building (which is common in rented space), ask the landlord what he or she is doing to meet today’s higher standards for safety.

Creating a secure work environment and preventing a workplace crisis may seem like a daunting task, but by taking the first steps Barton mentions in the HR Break Room episode “Safety First: Proactive Crisis Management,” you can become better equipped to mitigate risk.

For more information on Paycom’s Document and Task Management tool, request a demo.

About the Author

Caleb Masters

Caleb is the host of The HR Break Room and a Webinar and Podcast Producer at Paycom. With more than 5 years of experience as a published online writer and content producer, Caleb has produced dozens of podcasts and videos for multiple industries both local and online. Caleb continues to assist organizations creatively communicate their ideas and messages through researched talks, blog posts and new media. Outside of work, Caleb enjoys running, discussing movies and trying new local restaurants.

See more posts by Caleb Masters