In earlier posts, we discussed that there are often warning signs that someone might commit an act of workplace violence. But, unfortunately, it is often only after an incident occurs that coworkers, family members, even neighbors recognize these troubling behaviors for what they are.
Because workplace violence has become so commonplace in today’s America (please see our other posts on this topic by clicking here) we need to know these warning signs and be able to detect them in others. This is key to workplace violence prevention.
Workplace Violence and a Range of Behaviors
Although we need to pay careful attention to the actions of our colleagues, no single behavior signals someone is about to commit a violent act in the workplace. Very often, those who might perform a violent act display a range of behaviors, some more obvious and more serious than others, which suggest they might commit a violent act.
However, whether it is one or several warning signs, these behaviors should be brought to the attention of supervisors and managers. It is a situation in which it is far better to be safe than sorry.
More Warning Signs of Workplace Violence
With that said, here are some additional warning signs of workplace violence:
- A history of threats or violent acts in the workplace. In one incident, a man who later committed a serious act of violence in an office, had recently punched his fist through a wall in response to workplace conflict. This warning sign went unheeded by administrators.
- A criminal history that suggests a propensity toward violence.
- Any verbal abuse or harassment by one worker toward another. This may be displayed as bullying, threats, insults, or sexual advances.
- Harboring a grudge against others in the workplace. Very often, these staffers will discuss their grudges with others who listen but do not take them seriously.
- Unwanted and persistent romantic pursuits. This can include stalking.
- Experiencing a recent breakup. Workplace romances that turn sour can lead to workplace violence.
- Going through a difficult time, such as a divorce, a death, legal challenges, or financial hardship.
- Exhibiting homicidal tendencies. A homicidal tendency can be a range of thoughts from vague ideas of revenge to formulating plans to kill one or more people.
- Displaying suicidal tendencies. Someone displaying such tendencies may make comments such as “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I had never been born.” They may also buy a gun or stockpile pills.
We must pay attention to all these warning signs. Related to these, however, if someone is displaying any of the above behaviors, employers may also look to see if there is a sudden decrease in productivity by the staffer, an increase in absenteeism, or an abrupt retreat from their regular social circles at work.
Implementing Informal and Formal Measures
Organizations must remain mindful of employees who display any of the behaviors or warning signs mentioned earlier. Very often, informal intervention, such as discussing the issue with the employee and offering solutions, can help abate the situation.
However, more formal intervention may be necessary.
One challenge for business owners and managers is determining how serious a warning sign is. Can it be addressed informally or are more formal measures required?
To help make that decision, many organizations call on risk assessment experts to carefully examine the situation.
Looking at the bigger picture, these experts can also help administrators develop policies and procedures for preventing, managing, and responding to workplace violence. Having a policy and solid procedures in place demonstrates your commitment to addressing violence and ensuring the safety of your staff and your facility.
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