Can Companies Help Protect Employees From Workplace Violence?

September 2, 2015  |  

When it comes to our society and violence, things seem to be getting crazier by the minute. You can barely turn on the news without seeing a headline about someone dying at the hands of another. While this is sadly our reality, the recent on-air shooting of a news reporter and cameraman has many feeling some type of way and asking one very important question: What are companies doing to protect their employees from workplace violence? This might sound like an odd question but it’s one that deserves an answer.

When I think about office drama and violence, the only thing that comes to mind is someone flipping out if they get fired. I would never think a disgruntled employee would ever try to harm their colleagues — let alone, try to kill them — but the reality is that’s a bit naive.

Companies will have to come to their own conclusions on what’s best for their particular place of business, but there are still a few things all should consider. One pretty obvious move employees should make is to speak to HR about a co-worker’s questionable behavior. This of course means businesses should establish an HR leader to go to in the first place. Sure, a talk with human resources might seem like a “duh,” but you wouldn’t believe how many skip this step and don’t get an incident on record. While it might not completely fix a situation, it does alert the higher ups to a potential issue that enables them to take action, when deemed necessary. Hopefully this will encourage others to speak up if they see something — even if it doesn’t directly involve them.

Corporate wellness programs that include access to mental and emotional health professionals are also a step in the right direction. While some might still take matters into their own hands, sometimes people just need someone to speak to about the problems they’re having.

Security is a definite must that will help serve as a barrier. Outside of hiring a retired police officer or veteran, businesses can amp up the security around the office with cameras. Another option to think about are personal identification badges that will lower the amount of people who shouldn’t be in the building.

As you might’ve guessed, creating a workplace environment free of violence is easier said than done. No matter how much you do, there’s always that worst case scenario that can occur. Still, there needs to be a plan in place that reiterates a job’s no-tolerance policy for outbursts of rage and, of course, violence. It also wouldn’t hurt to make the job screening process a little more intensive.

Obviously what happened in Virginia isn’t an everyday situation (one can only hope). This doesn’t take away the importance to make a few extra steps to keep employees safe.

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