Memphis Business Journal. Preventing And Responding To Workplace Violence.9.17.10


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Memphis Business Journal. Preventing And Responding To Workplace Violence.9.17.10

  1. 1. Sign OutMemphis Business Journal - September 20, 2010/memphis/stories/2010/09/20/smallb2.htmlFriday, September 17, 2010Considerations in preventing andresponding to workplace violenceMemphis Business Journal - by Barbara RichmanWith all of the latest advances in technology, suppose an announcement was made todaytouting a new device that is guaranteed to protect the workplace from the dangers ofworkplace violence, including the unthinkable potential of a deadly incident.Employers would line up or hit the “Send” buttons on their computers to purchase this newproduct once available.Currently, there is no panacea such as this new device or other one-size-fits-alldevelopments. However, there are realistic approaches that employers can take tocontribute to a safe environment and decrease the potential for violence.These approaches work in conjunction with one another rather than as isolated efforts.The following are questions for employers to consider when examining ways to prevent andrespond to workplace violence:1. Does the workplace reflect an environment of respect? In a respectful workplace, there isan expectation that all employees will act in a manner that demonstrates respect for othersand the organization. It is understood that those in leadership positions will serve as rolemodels and influence others by displaying respect in their day-to-day interactions.2. Has a workplace violence policy been adopted and communicated? The policy shouldinclude information on topics, such as preventive measures, actions to be taken in the eventof occurrences, types of conduct that will not be tolerated and discipline up to and includingtermination for violations. Since a broad range of behaviors constitute workplace violence,the policy should provide specific examples, such as physical assaults, threats, intentionaldamage of property and verbal abuse.3. Do employees understand that they have a responsibility to report situations involvingpotential workplace violence and that that there will be no retaliation as a result ofproviding this information? These expectations and procedures for reporting incidents
  2. 2. should be included in the workplace violence policy and reinforced in training and otherorganizational communications.4. Have steps been taken to maximize the physical security of the workplace? Employersshould examine their facilities and work sites to assess risks and determine the level ofprotection that is provided for employees and other individuals at these locations. Aspermissible under applicable state laws, there should be a ban or restrictions placed onweapons, firearms and similar items, materials and substances that can jeopardizeworkplace safety.5. Are claims of workplace violence promptly investigated and corrective actions taken?Claims of this nature should be taken seriously and reported to the human resourcedepartment or other staff identified in the policy. Investigations should be handled in anexpedient and objective manner and followed by corrective actions, as appropriate.6. Has the organization identified and communicated information about resources that areavailable for employees who are dealing with stress and other issues that impact jobperformance? Employee assistance programs are an example of services that employers canprovide to assist employees in areas, such as anger management, substance and alcoholabuse, financial matters and emotional problems.7. Do supervisors and employees receive information and/or training on ways to preventand respond to workplace violence? Topics that can be covered include the organization’spolicy and identification of early warning signs. In addition, supervisors should gain anunderstanding of ways to diffuse troubling situations, foster open communications withemployees and document effectively.8. Has the employer been proactive in developing plans for responding to incidents thatpresent an immediate danger to those in the workplace? A written policy and training arekey components in planning. The organization can also implement other planninginitiatives, such as appointing a crisis management team to assist in coordinating overallprevention and response efforts.9. Have the recruitment and hiring processes been reviewed to determine if there areadditional ways to identify applicants with a propensity for workplace violence? The reviewshould assess all aspects of the process, including employment applications, interviewquestions, drug and alcohol screening, background investigations and reference checks.10. What attention has the organization given to the potential for employment terminationsto lead to workplace violence? Employers should anticipate that individuals who areterminated will have varying emotional reactions resulting from a severed employmentrelationship, concerns associated with a loss of income and uncertain prospects for thefuture. Based on this understanding and knowledge of the specific case, the organizationshould institute precautionary measures, as necessary, for safety purposes. Steps should
  3. 3. also be taken to ensure that each individual is treated with respect by all involved in thetermination process.BARBARA RICHMAN is a senior consultant with HR Mpact, a Memphis human resourceconsulting firm. She can be reached at (901) 685-9084, (901) 496-0462 or barbara@hr-mpact.comAll contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.