There are many types of workplace violence situations. Below is one of them:
At a large manufacturing plant, Lynne oversees the IT department and prides herself on having a hardworking and well-functioning team. However, one employee on her team, Max, does not fit in.
Despite Max’s impressive skill set, his coworkers have expressed their concerns about his lack of people skills and his tendency not to take responsibility when things go wrong. He regularly blames others for these mistakes.
Lynne is also aware of this situation and tried to address it by meeting privately with Max. Unfortunately, Max became agitated during the meeting and refused to acknowledge that he was doing anything wrong. Instead, he accused his coworkers of picking on him and blaming him for things that were not his fault.
Despite Lynne’s efforts, Max’s behavior has not improved, and his coworkers continue to complain about him. One coworker even noticed that Max had been posting content on social media related to recent shootings in the city.
With the company in the process of laying off employees, tensions were running high. Max’s coworker feared that Max’s postings about local shootings indicated he might become violent if laid off.
This is now a serious concern for Lynne as well.
What do you think Lynne should do to address this potential workplace violence issue?
Analyze the Situation
This situation is more common than you might think. When a company starts to reduce its workforce, employee stress levels increase. Most employees can cope with the situation and move forward, but some struggle more than others.
This is particularly the case for a worker like Max, who has not adapted well and has faced conflicts with his colleagues. Further, his postings about local shootings compound and exacerbate concerns about the situation.
According to a March 28, 2023, BBC report, “experts point to the rise in life stressors … especially hardships related to finances, employment or family and relationships” as a reason for mass shootings.
What happens next, according to Jaclyn Schildkraut, the executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the nonpartisan Rockefeller Institute of Government, is that people experiencing these life stressors react by “acting out or responding violently.”
This corresponds with a report released a month earlier by the U.S. Secret Service. The report found that “93 percent of the assailants had been dealing with personal issues before the attack, whether it be a divorce, health problems, or issues at work,” according to the BBC report.
Handle the Situation
To handle this situation, TAL Global’s COO Oscar Villanueva, who has extensive experience with workplace violence and similar scenarios, suggests the following:
If Lynne’s company has a threat management team, she should contact them immediately. A key component of TAL Global’s Prepare-React-Recover methodology requires creating such threat management teams, with all its members taught how to handle potentially violent situations.
If such a team has not been created, Lynne should inform her superiors as soon as possible and request external support. This external support would comprise security professionals trained in “best practices” for dealing with workplace violence and active assailant situations.
The security professionals would assess the threat’s credibility and, if they find it has merit, devise a practical solution to prevent violence.
We should note that time is of the essence in these types of situations. With impending layoffs and the recent shootings in the city, the urgency is compounded — prompt action is essential.
Dissatisfaction and Workplace Violence
Here’s one more thing we need to address. According to a January 2023 Gallup Poll, 76 percent of Americans “are dissatisfied with the ways things are going in the U.S.” This may be due to politics, the way the country is changing, the economy, AI technology, and more.
This negative mood and the ease of getting guns are why employers must now be more concerned about workplace violence than ever before.
Consulting security professionals only when there are security concerns, as described here, is no longer an option. Working with security professionals should now be ongoing — view them as part of your company team.
TAL Global is an elite security, consulting, and risk management firm that protects human and physical assets around the globe. For more information email: email@example.com