7 Tips to Prevent Workplace Violence
There are so many concerns that businesses owners, managers and employees are stressed about constantly every day. And unfortunately, workplace violence has now become a majorly heightened concern for workers everywhere. We have especially seen these numbers jump during these post-pandemic conditions now that organizations are reopening their offices and requiring their employees to return in person.
Before the pandemic, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that 1 out of 7 people didn’t feel safe at work. The Covid-19 pandemic has left workers vulnerable as they quickly adapted to their new sheltered working environments. But now boundaries are being tested as employees are being mandated to come back to the office, even in hybrid situations.
Recently, a study of more than 1,500 full-time U.S. employees, 71% say Workplace health and safety is their main priority when discussing how they felt about returning to the office and what their concerns or frustrations were. While workplace violence is not something new, it has become more frequent and dangerous throughout places of work across the country. Various shooting tragedies within physical workplaces in the U.S. have continued to dominate headlines. In fact, about one-fourth of U.S. workers say their current workplace had been the scene of at least one incident of workplace violence.
Larger companies typically have an entire department to carry out their security measures and have trained personnel in place. However, smaller businesses depend on their HR departments to formulate a prevention plan.
Violence Prevention Tips
As a leader its vital to be attentive to the risks that a potential tragedy in your office or place of work could transpire to your managers and employees. Preparation is the key to minimize the risks of particular event happening. There are items you can do immediately to prepare your employees and managers for any potential risks.
1. Create a Prevention Plan
Write these rules as a part of the company handbook or as its own separate policy, creating a prevention plan, identifying, and defining workplace violence, recognizing warning signs, establishing an emergency response plan, and implementing a response team must be documented.
2. Management Training
Teach management how to lead with empathy and care for employees, while also spotting any potential problems in the physical workplace. These actions, communication and education must start from the top down, where management provides hands-on training and safety instruction to ensure all employees know the proper protocol given a dangerous emergency situation.
3. Open Communication
Create a supportive environment that encourages all kinds of feedback so that you hear of a problem before it gets worse. Establish routine, or regular one-on-one meetings between managers and employees to ensure continuous interaction and feedback opportunity.
4. Identify an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
An EAP helps with mental health counseling for employees. This program is oftentimes offered as an ancillary benefit that is already offered to employees. Be sure to circulate the EAP phone number for all managers and employees, in case it is needed for an employee.
5. Be Cognizant of Employee Behavior and/or Life Changes
These changes can be the following: a decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene, severe mood swings and unstable, emotional responses, paranoid behaviors, an increase in empathy for those who commit acts of violence, comments about firearms and other dangerous weapons, divorce, death in the family, financial problems such as high personal debt or bankruptcy, substance abuse that is getting worse and signs are showing at work, and depression or mental illness that are getting worse and signs are showing at work.
6. Physical and Technical Security Checks
Take the time to inspect the security infrastructure that exists. Be sure there are cameras in the parking lot and near entrance points, put a keycode on the doors to your office or keep a simple doorstop near the front door to readily be put in place to stop intruders from entering your workplace. Look into backup emergency power solutions and evaluate other technical security issues that could arise such as email delivery safeguards, access control safekeeping, etc.
7. Post Local Police Department Phone Number
Call the local police department to ask them to go through your physical workplace and identify ways to keep your employees safer in case of a workplace violence situation.
According to The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), workplace violence is “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.” OSHA also states that there are about 2 million reported cases of workplace violence every year.
The challenges of the workplace have always been varied, complex, and constantly changing. Leaders can take proactive and thoughtful actions to prevent any threats of violence to their employees and to ensure these situations never occur. The annual total cost to businesses is $130 billion(opens in new tab), due to loss of productivity, medical costs, and lawsuits related to workplace violence. Learn more about how Flex HR can help support your workforce safety efforts.
Contact Flex HR to get your workplace prevention plan into place straightaway.