by Rob Weinhold
A safe work environment is paramount to everyone in the workplace and should be the first priority of leadership. The recent workplace shooting at the Emcore Corporation in New Mexico highlights the pervasive dangers faced by all business owners and their employees each day. This tragic situation left ten people shot and three dead, including the gunman who is suspected of targeting a domestic partner. Workplace violence is defined as physical violence, threats of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behaviors which occur in the workplace. Attacks in the workplace often seem unpredictable, sudden, devastating, life-altering and public for many stakeholders – physically, emotionally and financially. Unfortunately, many leaders do not pay attention to the prevention side of workplace violence until it is too late.
In an effort to provide some top-line advice regarding prevention, the Fallston Group offers the following:
1. Install a controlled access security system complete with designated entry points
2. Monitor access security cameras and badge identification systems which are controlled by a receptionist or security personnel – includes monitoring of hallways, stairwells, ingress and egress to executive suites, etc.
3. Implement one-way exit strategies which allow employees to vacate buildings quickly from multiple areas during an emergency – points of exit which cannot be penetrated from the exterior of the building
4. Limit access to certain areas of property based on job description and authorization
5. Offer workplace violence awareness training for supervisors and managers (educate workforce about the early warning signs of workplace violence)
6. Require detailed documentation of behavior/performance and implement reporting policies – be certain assessments, policies and training strategies are reviewed and implemented on a routine basis
7. Provide employee access to counseling services and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs – pay close attention to the culture of the business as problems often creep into the workplace from the personal lives of employees. If practical, offer family life programs to relieve some of the work-life balance pressures some employees may feel
8. Involve law enforcement in the documentation process if behavior is deemed threatening
9. Request law enforcement visits with stop, walk and talk details (free of charge)
10. Form a threat assessment/crisis team who regularly plan for and evaluate issues.
In addition to the tactics described above, sound pre-employment screening procedures, prior to offers of employment, is critical. Searching for backgrounds in criminal behavior, domestic violence, weapons charges and crimes of violence are often early indicators of future problems. To learn more about protecting your employees and reducing the exposure points of your business, contact the Fallston Group at 443.690.0765 or log onto fallstongroup.com. It is the ethical thing to do as a leader.