Workplace Violence

By: Kristin VanSoest
Workplace violence can be any act of physical violence, threats of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. Workplace violence can affect or involve employees, visitors, contractors, and other non-employees. A number of different actions in the work environment can trigger or cause workplace violence. It may even be the result of no-work related situations such as domestic violence or “road rage”. Workplace violence can be inflicted by an abusive employee, manager, or even a stranger. Whatever the cause or whoever the perpetrator, workplace violence is not to be accepted or tolerated.

The following are warning indicators of potential workplace violence:

• Intimidating, harassing, bullying, belligerent, or other inappropriate and aggressive behavior.
• Numerous conflicts with customers, co-workers, or supervisors.
• Brining a weapon to the workplace (unless necessary for the job), making inappropriate references to guns, or making idle threats about using a weapon to harm someone.
• Statements showing fascination with incidents of workplace violence, statements indicating approval of the use of violence to resolve a problem, or statements indicating identification with perpetrators of workplace homicides.
• Statements indicating desperation (over family, financial, and other personal problems) to the point of contemplating suicide.
• Direct or veiled threats of harm.
• Substance abuse.
• Extreme changes in normal behaviors.

Once you have noticed a subordinate, co-worker, or customer showing any signs of the above indicators, you should take the following steps:

• If you are a co-worker, you should notify the employee’s supervisor immediately of your observations.
• If it is a customer, notify your supervisor immediately.
• If it is your subordinate, then you should evaluate the situation by taking into consideration what may be causing the employees problems.
• If it is your supervisor, notify that person’s manager.

It is very important to respond appropriately, i.e., not to overreact but also not to ignore a situation. Sometimes that may be difficult to determine. Managers should discuss the situation with expert resource staff to get help in determining how best to handle the situation.

This is a condensed article; read the full article here.