It’s a sad fact that violence can occur anywhere, at any time. According to OSHA statistics, approximately 2 million cases of occupational violence are reported each year. Workplace managers need strategies to abate violent incidents.
Before action can be taken, companies must learn to recognize the danger signs of a troubled worker, which can be numerous and hard to separate from other causes. The clearest indicators include sudden changes in job performance or conduct, theft or sabotage of corporate property, and hostile relationships with bosses, coworkers or customers. For their own safety, everyone in the workplace should be informed on these and similar topics.
Corporate leaders can invite professional speakers to explain the phenomenon of occupational violence to managers as well as ordinary employees. Information gained from their expertise can help companies craft effective policies against potential violence.
The best way for workplaces to alleviate the latent threat of violence is to take preemptive steps against it. Once aware of the warnings, executives can create an environment designed to curb bad behavior before it begins. A transparent and encouraging managerial style should be emphasized, with caution given toward symptoms of a breakdown, but not at the expense of intrusive supervision.
Support services should be offered for workers who have problems themselves or with others. Given demonstrable cause, workers’ jobs may be made conditional on completing an anger management program. Websites providing court ordered courses are suitable resources for this purpose. Reasonable security precautions should also be taken, especially during traumatic times of restructuring and employee dismissals.
As important as prevention is, when emergencies happen, managers cannot be caught off-guard. People must know how to handle violence ahead of time and minimize harm to themselves and others. The most important thing is to stay cool, calm and collected.
When violence breaks out, it’s best to flee and find help, or else to hide. One should only confront the culprit when there’s absolutely no other choice. If forced to interact with a violent perpetrator, it’s essential to remain reasoned, casual and conversational. Be mindful of their actions, express empathy and caring as much as possible, give them an outlet to talk things through, and generally strive to de-escalate the situation.
While the individual chances of employees experiencing a violent event are low, higher numbers of workers and amounts of time spent at work statistically increase these risks. It’s crucial that companies make a plan to prepare for violence, and hopefully stop it before it happens.