According to Ms. Sarah J. Smith, former Director of Human Resources for the City of LaPorte, IN, statistics show that in recent years, an average of 2 million violent assaults or offenses have been committed in the workplace in the US. Ms. Smith advised that approximately 13 out of 1000 employees have been victims of violent crimes while in the workplace. Many of the workplace violent crime incidents have been related to motives of robbery. However, in the last few years, motives have changed and hate and revenge crimes are on the rise. This article will address how management can implement a proactive policy against workplace violence.
Workplace Violence Defined
According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workplace violence is defined as “any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse that occurs in the work setting.” Included in that definition are psychological trauma which has been caused by behaviors such as—threats, an intimidating presence, obscene phone calls and any kind of harassment.
Industries Experiencing Workplace Violence
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “in 2006, 5% of all establishments, including state and local governments, experienced a violent incident.” This percentage has risen in recent years. Some of the industries that have seen more workplace violence include the following listing.
- Liquor stores
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Jewelry stores
- Hotels and motels
- Restaurants and bars
- Taxicab businesses
- Security services
The BLS recorded that co-worker workplace violence occurred more often in larger establishments in the private industry and goods-producing industries rather than in service-providing industries. The service industry had reports of more criminal, customer and domestic violence.
Steps to Implement a Proactive Policy
There are certain steps that a company can take in order to implement a proactive policy against workplace violence and they are discussed below. Prevention is always the best method for protection. Being prepared can help to protect your employees and create a safer workplace environment.
1. Evaluate Current Company Policies
It is vital that management review the current workplace policy that has been implemented to ascertain whether or not it is feasible and works well for the employees and company as a whole. If there is no current proactive policy against workplace violence in place, action needs to be taken to implement a preventative plan.
2. Train Management on the Policies
Once the policies are in place, all of the managers need to be properly educated on the preventative measures that must be taken to prevent—and handle—workplace violence incidents. Policies should be put into place to advise management on the proper hiring and retention regulations that your company is abiding by. Many times, workplace violence occurs due to negligent hiring and that is a problem that could have been prevented.
3. Explain Policies to Employees
Additionally, the employees need to know that there is a preventative policy and action plan put into place to handle these workplace violence situations. Chaos and fear will only cause more unnecessary violence and unrest. If the employees know that you have implemented a policy to protect them, they will be more relaxed and then able to focus on the daily work tasks. You want to cultivate a positive and effective culture in the workplace which will affirmatively combat negativity and violence.
4. Rehearse the Action Plan
In order for you to feel confident that your management team and employees know how to assertively act during a workplace violence emergency, you must rehearse the action plan. Call a company-wide or group team meeting for the plan to be further explained and practiced. Take the time to answer any questions that your employees have. You do not want confusion to reign, but rather a sense of security and understanding of the plan.
5. Train the Employees
This final step involves more than simply rehearsing the action plan. It is vital that you offer CPR and first aid training to your employees so that you and your personnel can feel confident in an emergency. Work with your management team to assign a company representative who will represent you and speak to the public through the press during any emergencies or workplace violence that occurs. The Society for Human Resource Management suggests that employers offer an employee assistance program [302 from http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/benefits/Pages/EmployeeAssistancePrograms(EAPs).aspx] to assist employees during times of emergencies and that they make their personnel aware of this EAP program.
Workplace violence is on the rise and it is an important issue that employers need to understand. They must find a way to implement preventative measures and also put into place an action plan in their companies. The main goal is to have polices in place to prevent issues—and if violence still occurs—to have a proactive action plan in place to effectively deal with the situation.