Would your workforce know what to do in the face of threatening employee behavior? Would your human resources team know how to respond to reports of a violent coworker? Perhaps most crucially of all, would you?
Astoundingly, more than half of American employees report being unaware or unsure of their employer’s emergency preparedness plans, and around a fifth don’t know what they would do if they witnessed or were directly involved with an instance of workplace violence.
These numbers suggest that employers are dropping the ball, which is surprising given that American businesses lose somewhere in the range of $250 to $330 billion every year to the fallout of such incidents. From lost productivity and absences through to liability and litigation—which can result in average legal costs ranging from $500,000 for out-of-court settlement to $3 million for a jury award settlement—a violent or threatening employee, customer, or other individuals can represent a huge threat to any enterprise.
What to Do If You Experience Violence or Threats in the Workplace
Being able to recognize an immediate danger of violence or threatening behavior is a skill, and most employers need to engage external specialists in order to identify potential vulnerabilities, minimize risk, and provide tailored training to suit their unique enterprise. A violence and threat assessment is a great place to start in this endeavor—but what should you do if preventative and reactive strategies are not fully implemented and an incident occurs on your watch?
Workplace violence is an umbrella term that encompasses not only physical attack, but also verbal abuse, intimidation, threatening behavior, bullying, discrimination, and more. While these non-physical acts may not seem so dangerous, they can be warning signs of further risk ahead. This makes it critical to enforce a zero-tolerance policy and encourage reporting. All incidents of workplace violence or threatening employee behavior should be reported and investigated, no matter how large or small.
Behavioral red flags should be responded to with responsible human resources investigations, including observation, fact-finding, interviewing, documenting, discipline, and reporting in alignment with company policies and legal obligations. However, when threatening or violent behavior escalates, it is important to react promptly and take any threat seriously:
- If a threat is made, secure your own safety and the safety of others
- If you suspect that persons or premises may be in danger, contact the authorities by dialing 911
- Seek supervisory and security team support in responding to any perpetrator of workplace violence or threats
- Remain calm, speaking in a slow and clear voice
- Consult the Department of Homeland Security guidance for responding to an active shooter.
- Cooperate with responding law enforcement personnel
Following Workplace Violence and Ensuring Future Prevention
Whether an incident of workplace violence results in injury or not, it is vital to understand how it took place and take steps to avoid repetition. In achieving this goal, a corporate culture investigations specialist can be an essential ally. Here at Lauth Investigations International, we provide a spectrum of workplace investigations services that aim to aid businesses not only in their reactive human resources investigations but also in proactive risk mitigation.
Preventing workplace violence can be tackled from a number of different angles. A comprehensive violence and threat assessment can pinpoint vulnerabilities and provide insight for future training and security practices. Meanwhile introducing detailed background checks for new employees can help to avoid hiring someone with a dark past, and a corporate culture audit can support the permanent elimination of toxic behavior in the workplace.
Would you like to know more about how the corporate team here at Lauth Investigations International can help you keep your workplace safe, supportive, productive, and prosperous? If so, connect with us today for a no-obligation chat about your unique workplace violence prevention needs.