Two-way street

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

The impact of workplace violence on the employer can be staggering. Six out of 10 incidents of workplace violence occur in private companies. These incidents cost companies more than $4.2 billion in annual lost work and legal expenses, according to the National Safe Workplace Institute.

The Institute further calculates that the average cost to employers of a single episode of workplace violence can amount to $250,000 in lost work time and legal expenses.

What can employers do? A company can help prevent violence in three key ways:

1.    Implement a thorough pre-employment checking mechanism.

2.    Employ a well-educated security force.

3.    Maintain a well-informed personnel department that encourages employee communication and sponsors programs to deal with these issues, including self-protection and awareness programs for its employees. Small businesses especially should ensure that the lines of communication between owner and workers remain open at all times.

Often, too much emphasis is placed on the interview in making a hiring decision. A good pre-employment check can uncover a potential problem. Employers can search public records for incidents of criminal or civil misconduct. They can also access the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if a job candidate’s license is current and the driver is in good standing.

Most records are now on computer, so checking them has become a lot easier. In fact, failure to do so may lead to accusations of negligent hiring. Employers also can verify an applicant’s Social Security number with the Social Security Administration.

Most importantly, records that list criminal convictions, judgments and liens and civil suits are available through a variety of on-line computer services. 

Employers can

take other steps

•    Provide on-site stress relieving services such as Pilates, yoga, tai chi, dance, massage or counseling.

•    Provide coupons or reimbursement to employees who engage in these or other stress-relieving activities.

•    Enlist a toll-free anonymous service that employees can call if they are aware that a co-worker is becoming dangerous.

•    Make an effort to follow up on reports of employees who appear depressed, sullen, angry, commit inappropriate acts, romantically pursue other co-workers, exhibit a fascination with violence, guns and survivalist culture, make threats or behave in a threatening manner.

•    Recognize and don’t tolerate patterns of insubordination, intimidation, sabotage, threats, bullying, manipulations and actions that cause fear and anxiety.

•    Provide a well-lighted and secure parking area.

Employees play a role

Preventing violence in the workplace is a two-way street. Employers can only act on information they receive. Employees can help prevent workplace violence when they:

•    Report inappropriate behavior promptly.

•    Seek help for domestic abuse situations that they maybe experiencing either on their own or through employee assistance.

•    Make employers aware of potential stalking situations.

•    Use an anonymous employee tip line, notify employee assistance or human resources if they suspect or overhear that a violent act may occur or that an employee has stated a desire to commit acts of violence, has obtained a weapon within the last 90 days, talks a lot about weapons, is paranoid, spies on other employees or believes he or she is unfairly picked on or is continually depressed.

•    Take measures to reduce their own stress levels.

•    Follow their intuition and verbalize their concerns with the appropriate person.

Many business owners and mangers find themselves thinking that they are too busy to address some of these issues until they build up to a boiling point of tragedy. Don’t wait. The life that you save may be your own.

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