As company leaders grapple with the likelihood of workplace violence, many are confronting the absence of clear plans to protect workers from a disgruntled colleague or an external threat. Even if some employees recognize a potential danger or are the recipient of a direct threat, often there is no clear procedure to log and analyze the incident or activate protocols to manage the threat.
SHRM, the largest society serving Human Resources professionals reports that nearly half of HR professionals said their organization had at some point experienced a workplace violence incident—up from 36 percent in 2012. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workplace violence falls into four categories: criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker and personal relationship. In the worst case, businesses are faced with a deadly scenario. SHRM reports that in 2017, 800 employees died as a result of workplace violence; they also report that less than half (45%) of supervisors and only 25% of employees knew what to do if they witnessed an incident of workplace violence.
Tracking threatening incidents is one thing but understanding patterns that indicate a potential for violence is best left for security professionals. However, there are widely known warning signals that might represent a change from normal behavior. In addition to educating their workforce on emergency response procedures, many companies choose to include awareness of behavior changes in their security training curriculum. Conduct like unexplained absenteeism or decline in job performance, resistance to changes at work or persistent complaining about unfair treatment, violation of company policies and emotional responses to criticism are behavior indicators to watch for.
Takeaways: Companies need an Emergency Action Plan. A Security Training Program can empower employees with life-saving actions to take in a crisis, and can help workers recognize attitudes that may indicate changing behaviors that could possibly turn violent. An incident tracking tool can be deployed and managed by security professionals to help mitigate workplace threats.