ASK ALAN: How To STOP Workplace Violence?

Workplace violence is rising at an alarming rate. Although many leaders and staff are concerned, most don’t know how or where to begin to solve this horrific problem. The following is my interview with a renowned expert. I hope this resonates and causes you to become proactive toward solving this serious issue!

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We are all too familiar with the violence in Columbine, at the Annapolis Capital Gazette, the Washington Navy Yard, the Kroger-owned supermarket in Boulder CO, massage parlors in Atlanta, Orange County, CA, and many many others. They have resulted in people killed, terrified employees, and suffering families. With workplace violence on the rise, it should be no surprise that 1 out of 7 Americans does not feel safe at work, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, (SHRM) known as – the voice of all things “work.”

If you are a business owner, CEO, manager, or human resource professional, it is highly likely that you are concerned but ill-prepared to deal with preventing workplace violence. How could you not be with so many employees voicing their fears.” This is according to Felix Nater, a nationally recognized Workplace Violence Prevention Advisor. Felix has thirty years of experience, many awards, and recognitions including, from the prestigious International Association of Professional Security Consultants, (IAPSC). I felt that Felix would be an ideal expert, for advice on this topic. Recently, he agreed to meet with me to discuss the subject for this ASK ALAN (business advice and idea) column.

Please help put workplace violence in perspective.

“The problem is much greater than you would think. Nearly half of HR professionals said their organization had at some point experienced a workplace violence incident—up from 36 percent in 2012. And of those who reported having ever experienced workplace violence, over half said their organization had experienced an incident in the last year.“

Many business owners deny that workplace violence is an important issue for their “small” businesses. Is workplace violence limited to the size of the business?

“This is a common misunderstanding, the answer is no. No business is immune. Small brick-and-mortar businesses with just a few employees are as vulnerable as hospitals, educational institutions, and large corporations.

Another mistake is underestimating the multiple layers and dimensions of the issue. Most often, company management only focuses on prevention. To be truly effective, businesses must consider this issue in terms of securitypreventiontraining, and response.”

The negative media coverage seems to only spotlight active shooters. What harm does this limited focus present?

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“The reality is that media stories about active shooters attract viewers and sell newspapers. However, workplace violence takes many shapes and forms including, bullying, harassment, disgruntled employees, intimate partner violence that has workplace spillover, and domestic violence, all in addition to active shooter violence.”

Many business owners tell me that they have trained their managers and supervisors about what to do in the event of an episode of workplace violence. What is wrong with this picture?

“Waiting for an event to happen, then acting while it is underway, is a troubling response. Workplace violence has multiple levels of complexity. There are several things that should take place before a violent situation occurs. When an event happens, determining what tactics should be employed and by whom must be planned for in advance. Additionally, every employee has a role to play if the company is to mitigate the threat and dangers of workplace violence.”

What do you tell leaders who are genuinely and sincerely interested in a safe working environment?

“I tell them that they need a trusted, objective, outside consultant, with years of experience in mitigating workplace violence. It is impossible to alleviate employee fears using internal resources alone. I also tell them, that to do this requires a process implemented through collaborative organizational engagement. The process requires management to be logical, thoughtful, and be as comprehensive as possible.”

“The process begins with a comprehensive assessment. This assessment is intended to uncover gaps in any existing violence prevention initiative that could help thwart the next homicidal threat, workplace suicide or intimate partner workplace spillover violence. Gaps may include unintentional consequences of policies, procedures, protocols, access control, visitor management, separations and discipline, and new employee screening. This assessment also includes the specific nature of the workplace, policies, plans, procedures, technology, supervision, and training.”

Once a trusted consultant/advisor is retained, what can management expect to learn, change or do differently to mitigate the risk of workplace violence?

“Management will become more sensitive and learn how to:
     • Recognize warning signs, risk factors, and contributing conditions
     • Manage situations
     • Be in charge of one’s behavior in managing the potentially hostile workplace
     • Discover what being proactive really means
     • Use and rely on organizational resources
     • Lead with purpose
     • Seize the moment
     • Assess and evaluate situations on the spot
     • Conduct future comprehensive worksite specific assessments
     • Take corrective measures with policies that are proactive rather than reactive
     • Report, advise, and inform all involved”
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Interviewing Felix taught me a great deal about workplace violence issues that I was previously unaware of. The problems are multi-faceted and complex. They require more than a casual conversation or meetings among executives, managers, supervisors, and co-workers. To tackle the problems successfully management needs to acquire a new way of proactive leadership skill that must begin at the top. The ROI for collaborating with a qualified workplace violence specialist will be measured in the comfort level of all employees. Employees will recognize that company leaders never take the potential for workplace violence for granted.

Felix Nater is the Chief Security Consultant, (CSC) at Nater Associates, Ltd. He is a retired U.S. Postal Inspector and current security management consultant with over 30 years of experience and expertise. 704-784-0260 / Toll Free: 877-825-8101

About Alan

Alan Adler is an Executive Coach, Business Consultant, Speaker & Author.

04. April 2021 by Alan
Categories: ASK Alan | Leave a comment

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