While much of the work that we do is in the realm of international travel security consulting, for both employees and senior executives, we are also active in the area of workplace violence consulting. As consultants, we recognize that the threats to corporations are not just the high-profile threats of terrorism abroad, but the low-profile threats of illnesses of employees who are traveling in an international capacity, and the rare but tragic occurrences of violence at the workplace.
Workplace Violence Knows No Boundaries
Workplace violence, unfortunately, knows no boundaries. The relatively calm countries of Europe such as Norway or Finland have seen their share of workplace violence, and here in the United States, with our tradition of extensive gun ownership, we are also unfortunately more subject to workplace violence incidents. Culture, history, and the proliferation of firearms are not something that you as an employer can truly change, so the best strategy is one of awareness and prevention.
The first and most important tip that we might provide for workplace violence is that prevention is the best option. For example, new employees should be subject to a background check that looks for past criminal activity and mental illnesses, to the extent that this information is discoverable within the constraints of the law. If you are not currently conducting background checks on your employees, we would advise that you begin to do so, or at least consider doing so.
Second, creating a formal plan in the event of a workplace violence event is also very important. As top consultants in the field of workplace violence, we can work with your team to create a formal plan and set up the educational system so that all employees are educated as to what to do before, during, and after an event of workplace violence. Again, prevention is more important if possible: learning how to de-escalate tensions during a firing, for example, is a very valuable skill.
Third, to the extent that employees or other executives may be subject to violence, it is important to conduct regular training for these possible incidents. While incidents of workplace violence are not that common, they do occur, and you want your employees to have some awareness of what to do in the event of an emergency. Something as simple as posting instructions near elevator doors as to what to do during an emergency can be very useful during an event. Similarly, certain institutions such as schools and retail establishments, create code words that can be broadcast over the loudspeakers that indicate that an incident is in progress without sowing panic among customers.
An In-depth Plan Unique to Your Situation is Advised
The reality, however, is that an expert in workplace violence can really help your company think through its plan. A simple blog post such as this is only meant to give you some basic ideas, and is not, of course, a substitute for a thorough analysis by an expert, a formal plan, and the kind of basic training for both employees and managers to prevent an incidence of workplace violence and, should one break out, to mitigate its effect to the full extent possible.