Violence in the workplace takes many forms, from raised voices and profanity or sexual harassment to threats, coercion, or intimidation to robbery or homicide.
Many of us think workplace violence is all about disgruntled employees and active shooters. More commonly, it is a robbery gone awry. With proper planning, an employer can prepare the workplace for incidents of violence. To assess a workplace’s vulnerability to violence, ask yourself these questions.
- Do you have easy-to-use phone systems with emergency buttons, sign-in policies for visitors, panic buttons, safe rooms, security guards, office access controls, good lighting, safety training?
- Does your employer take care in hiring and firing?
- Before hiring, are employment gaps, history, references, and criminal and educational records thoroughly examined?
- Are termination procedures defined clearly with attention to advance notice, severance pay, and placement services?
- Are you encouraged to report unusual or worrisome behavior?
- Is there a clear, written policy that spells out procedures in cases of violence and sanctions for violators?
- Do you know to whom you should report unusual behaviors?
Once you have assessed your workplace’s vulnerability to violence, take steps to implement a workplace violence prevention program, if one is not already in place. This comprehensive program should be supported by all levels of employees and addresses physical security, hiring and firing practices, and employee vulnerabilities. Collaborate with upper management to encourage them to evaluate your workplace and help start a workplace violence prevention program where you work.