How to Combat Office Violence
Even if you’ve never dealt with it in the past, office violence is a reality that must be confronted. Media attention tends to focus on the rare, sensationalized acts of extreme violence, but there are more commonplace instances of workplace violence that occur every day in offices and boardrooms across the country. These include threats of physical violence, harassment, intimidation and other threatening, disruptive behaviors. Over 70 percent of U.S. workplaces don’t have a formal policy or program addressing workplace violence, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Recognizing the risk of workplace violence and taking action is essential. The creation of a sound prevention plan using your office’s technology is an important – and relatively inexpensive – component of a company’s workplace safety program.
There are actions you can take to protect your employees and mitigate the risk of workplace violence. Evaluate the workplace and identify both physical and administrative adjustments you can make to lower the risk of a violent incident:
- Limit the number of unlocked entrances and hiding places in and around the perimeter of the workplace
- Place storage facilities in a location that doesn’t expose employees to risk by forcing them to walk distances alone or in poorly lit areas
- Make use of security devices such as closed-circuit cameras, alarms, card-key access systems and panic-bar doors locked from the outside
- Utilize a gatekeeper or secretary to monitor traffic in and out of the office
- Institute policies and procedures that indicate a zero tolerance for workplace violence
- Provide training in defusing or de-escalating potentially violent situations
- Establish procedures for obtaining medical care and psychological support after a violent incident.
- Create a crisis response plan that describes procedures to follow in the event of an emergency
- Develop an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with trained counselors who are able to address workplace stress and violence issues
Identifying Potentially Violent Situations
Be alert, and train employees to be alert for these indicators of potential workplace violence, stressing the importance of reporting any suspicious behavior:
- Intimidating, harassing, bullying, belligerent or other inappropriate and aggressive behavior
- Conflicts with clients, co-workers or supervisors
- Making idle threats or references to weapons
- Desperate or suicidal statements
- Substance abuse
- Extreme behavioral changes
Train supervisors to not overreact, but also to not ignore these potential red flags. Discussing a situation with experts on staff or in human resources can help determine the best course of action.
- Assurance University Replay: Reduce Exposure to Workplace Violence
- Be on Alert to Prevent Workplace Violence
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