Dispelling 3 Common Myths about Workplace Violence Prevention and Workplace Security

Archive for the ‘Background Screening’ Category

Dispelling 3 Common Myths about Workplace Violence Prevention and Workplace Security

Posted on: August 3rd, 2018

When I speak with people about the topic of workplace violence prevention, their responses indicate their understanding of what constitutes workplace violence prevention.

“Our Zero Tolerance Policy addresses our workplace violence prevention efforts”.

“Management deals with such problems with discipline and if necessary we terminate the problem employees.”

“We call the police when we have a situation we can’t handle.”

“Security problems that our employees have in the community are referred to the police.”

What I hear are cookie-cutter responses because workplace violence consist of physical violence and non-violence related behaviors like harassment, bullying, name calling, verbal abuse, intimidation, threatening conduct, stalking, sabotage and cyber security threats. It is not waiting for the homicidal incident! OSHA documents about 2 million such incidents annually. We believe that number is much higher simply because it is underreported as workplace violence.

In short, what I hear is a rational that seems devoid of an articulated top down organizational workplace or school prevention and violence response strategy. It appears that prevention is based on assumptions, convenient decisions and expedient actions.

They seem not to know what they don’t know and convinced themselves they know – “Doing the same thing over & over, expecting different results.”

Here are the 3 of the most common myths most often applied over the years:

MYTH #1: Workplace violence will not happen here.

“Too many workplace cultures subscribe” to the theory that Zero Tolerance puts employees on notice that such behavior will not be tolerated. Experience has shown that employees are reluctant to report their co-workers if it means disciplinary action. Others believe that their background screening will help them hire the right person. Truth is that background screening cannot predict what an employee with diminished coping skills will do in the future in managing conflict. So applying the “walk like a duck it is a duck” euphemism may not apply in addressing workplace violence. Best Practices have a place so long as they are not applied as a blanket solution without adaptability and flexibility.

Some organizations believe that employing armed guards will discourage the homicidal threat of violence. The question I always pose is who protects the workplace against the lone armed guard. The solution is not the lone armed guard but the prevention strategy.

With the emphasis on the homicidal threat of violence the nonfatal acts of violence are treated as employee misconduct and improperly addressed. Contributing factors are rarely identified because the focus is on the employee misconduct and not “why” the employee became aggressive, confrontational or threatening. So while the focus may be on the active shooter threat, we forget to focus on prevention to identify the contributing factors that might very well lead to such aggression and a civil liability suit for failing to foresee a recognizable hazard.

Assumptions about workplace violence and the value of prevention nullify the thinking required in the development of a comprehensive holistic workplace violence prevention program intended to be proactive.

MYTH #2: Workplace violence is not preventable.

This myth more or so applies to the threat posed by the non-employee opportunistic criminal, armed robber or domestic violence/intimate partner violence threat but should not apply to the employee threat. The employee threat is PREVENTABLE. There are workplaces that subscribe to the common belief, at least in part to the notion that the disgruntled employee is hard to detect and therefore hard to deal with. As such, workplaces do not invest in developing adequate prevention strategies, measures and procedures to proactively engage prevention measures. The reasoning may defer to this belief due to expediency in their efforts because it may lack senior management commitment and investment in proper training and alignment of resources.

Creating a culture of organizational responsibility, accountability and leadership can go a long way towards building employee trust and confidence in reporting their observations. Key is to create employee engagement based on credibility in reporting, accountability and supervision so that witnesses and victims can believe proper action will be taken. .

MYTH #3: We have workplace violence under control.

We have things under control is the typical response I’ve heard from larger organizations that believe they have matters under control and they very well may have. In speaking with some of their representatives, I am impressed by the level of commitment and investment. While they  rely on their Zero Tolerance Policy there appears to be a coordinated effort between Human Resources, Security and other departments. However, I wonder how many of such organizations have actually surveyed their workforce in receiving actual feedback? In order to tap into their workplace realities, management must ask the workforce about their experiences and actual impressions in evaluating the organization’s workplace violence prevention posture. Transparency in responding to employee reports and complaints will give the prevention effort credibility.

Maximize the Prevention Value through Multiple Intervention Strategies

Prevention is directly linked to how organizations intentionally manage the workplace violence prevention policy/plan/program. Workplaces and educational institutions that make a management commitment and deliberate investment in applying Multiple Intervention Strategies will have a clear advantage over those that live in a world of ‘MYTHs”.  Deferring issues and situations to their local law enforcement rather than investing in a proactive workplace violence prevention initiative may expose their liability.

Supervision, coaching, counseling, EAP, training, and performance improvement plans are examples of Multiple Intervention Strategies that may avert disaster. I find “Employee Engagement” as a new component of a Multiple Intervention Strategy from the standpoint of an engaged workforce built on employee trust and confidence. “Employee Engagement” is measurable. For example, Gallup estimates that disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion dollars each year.

According to Accenture, less than 50% of CFO appear to understand the ROI (Return on Investment) in human capital. Could this perception play a role in supporting a strong argument for why the above myths exist today? After all, by understanding and measuring the threat of workplace violence against poor productivity and performance, medical and injury compensation and time and attendance, impact on the organization’s bottom-line can be measured along with identifying ROI.

I think correlation is significant in helping to understand impact. The World Health Organization reports that stress cost American Business an estimated $300 billion annually. On the other hand, workplace violence is estimated to cost $121 billion annually. One can safely conclude that stress is a by-product of harassment, bullying and other related behaviors. Time away from work results in an average of 3.5 lost days per workplace violence incident recorded. Out of court civil law suit settlements average $500,000  Nonfatal assaults results in 876,000 lost work days annually. How do these areas help your organization develop your own metrics?

In Closing…

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Would you agree that by understanding the “WHAT, HOW and WHY” of workplace violence prevention and understanding and measuring employee satisfaction, productivity and impact on the bottom-line, effective programs can be developed and managed? Drawing a correlation between workplace violence prevention and employee engagement can help enhance the organizational response and begin to appreciate the value of proactive intervention. Hasty intervention and speedy response to employee complaints and observations will help organizations avoid being surprised by the active shooter. Remember that a workplace or school active shooter is a failed workplace or school violence prevention policy.

Security Management: How Do You Hire the Right Person?

Posted on: November 8th, 2017

Intro Felix P. Nater, CSC.  Hiring the right people for security work can be a real challenge.  In this edition we are featuring Mack Arrington, PCC of Pathways Career Testing (www.PathwaysCareerTesting.com) to walk us through a critically important part of every employer’s comprehensive workplace violence prevention program – the hiring process. Mr. Mack Arrington is certified in using a variety of assessments for recruiting and employee development and as such is intimately familiar with workplace issues but in particular personnel screening.

The hiring process is NOT an opportunity  to fill a position with a “warm body” but an individual whom the employment process can invest in as a productive member of the team and not a potential security threat tomorrow.  As many of you have heard me say over the years, the prevention of workplace violence involves multiple intervention strategies. In this Blog we will address the value of the hiring and retention as two (2) proactive intervention strategies in hiring the right person and possibly identifying potential at risk personnel.   Therefore, employers who conduct background checks and behavior based interviewing do so before making a job offer should also consider an assessment capability that helps identify problems along way that adversely may impact retention decisions later.

Check with your labor law attorneys in your state to be certain you are in compliance. Employment screening and assessment should be supported by a policy that articulates conducting background checks on all employees and not selectively because you get a gut feeling.

Mack Arrington, PCC shares his thoughts.

Have you noticed how expensive it is to hire the wrong person—especially with the standards and liabilities expected of security personnel? The recommended solution has three parts, but first, a word about the reality we face:

Did you know that over 70% of college students admitted they would lie on a resumé to get a job—and as many as 80% of job seekers already lie on a resumé? (1)

It is estimated that resumé fraud costs employers approximately $600 billion annually—talk about risk management! (1)

Did you know that, alone, the interview is only 14% effective in hiring the right person for the right job? (2)

Background checks can miss critical data and return incorrect information. Inaccuracies have sparked multi-million dollar class action settlements. (3, 4, 5)

And when it comes to “misstating the truth” in order to get a job, we could say that some folks have high integrity to low standards. Here is some truth you might have seen:

  • Resume writers can write great fiction
  • Past experience does not reliably predict future success in a different culture or environment
  • Job candidates don’t provide bad references on themselves
  • A business can get sued for giving a bad reference for a former employee
  • Background checks might not find everything
  • The interview is a fantasy world of happy faces; reality sets in after the hire
  • The hiring process is subjective and biased
  • Businesses hire for competency and fire for behavior

It Can Get Worse

Have you ever worked for a company, and wondered why they hired a certain person? It reminds me of the show where the undercover CEO pretends to be a new employee and tries different jobs in the company. It’s amazing how fast the trainer can tell if the “new employee” cannot do the job. You can almost see the questions that cross their minds:

“Where did they find this guy, and can they return him for a refund?”

“What was leadership thinking when they hired her?”

“How long is our team going to have to cover for this person?”

“Who’s going to do damage control with our customers?”

“Is this going to be a law suit or what?

“He’s already had three doughnuts, when is he going to work?”

From a leadership position, it can get worse—especially if you recommended or approved a bad hire. It’s like the saying, “That dog won’t hunt,” —and it’s your dog. I’ve seen it take months to document poor performance before a company would terminate an employee. Meanwhile, employee morale and productivity, and customer relations can suffer.

A Recommended Solution for Hiring

The best solution for hiring that I’ve seen combines three main parts. First, the documentation includes resumé, references and background check. Second, the interview provides a sense of how the person can show up, communicate and fit with the company. The third part, if done well, can provide the most insight into hiring the right person for the right job: assessments, also called personality testing.

I prefer to use what’s been called a whole person assessment to indicate a person’s success factors, motivators and behavioral style. I have used this kind of assessment to accurately predict high-risk hires, identify areas of concern and generate respectful interview questions that normally would not be asked. I have also used this type of assessment for employee training and development after the hire. Let me explain why this is important.

Have you ever considered the success factors that go with every job—much less the ability to test for those factors? Most employers want employees who have high scores in:

  • Decision-Making – they use common sense
  • Personal Accountability – they accept responsibility for their actions, both the good and the bad
  • Self-Management – they manage themselves so you don’t have to do so
  • Self-Control – they manage their emotions, both internally and externally
  • Resiliency – they keep going when the going gets tough
  • Results Orientation – they get the job done and done right

Of course, you have other specific success factors for specific jobs. In the security industry, a given job might require high scores in Conflict Management, Diplomacy and Tact, Problem-Solving and Life Judgment. Once you know the requirements, we can test for those requirements.

Motivators are a “make it or break it” key for hiring and retention. Every person you hire represents an investment of time and money, of training, of investment in the future of your company, and in your good name. In our assessments, if you can’t satisfy your employees’ top two motivators, those employees are likely to leave and take your investment with them—often to your competitors.

For example, I know of one employer who wanted to offer a “weekend getaway” to employees for improving performance. I pointed out that not all employees would be motivated by this. The employer then offered three choices: the weekend getaway, a big screen television, or a cash reward. It was amazing that about one-third of the employees chose each option depending on their motivators.

The behavioral style is the most observable part—if you have time to get to know someone. Is it smart to put an analytical introvert in a fast-paced, crowded environment? No. Is it smart to put a competitive, decisive, short-tempered extrovert in a situation that requires a steady, methodical sensitivity? No. Can these folks adapt outside their usual style? Maybe. The assessments can provide a quality process to plugging the right person into the right environment.

And yes, we can “reverse engineer” the process. Most of the time, we start with an assessment for the individual. But for mission-critical jobs, we can start by first identifying which success factors, motivators and behavioral style is required for a given job, and then test for the applicants who meet those requirements. This is usually the most accurate way to hire, and the most expensive to develop.

I hope this has been helpful. We understand that hiring the wrong person can be very expensive in many ways. Nobody can guarantee a 100% success rate in hiring, and then retaining the ones you’ve trained and want to keep is another challenge altogether. A combination of documentation, interviewing, and testing for success factors greatly improves the odds of getting it right. There are exceptions, and there are shortcuts, but is it worth the risk?

Don’t wait until tomorrow to confirm your concerns. Call Mack Arrington the Behavioral Assessment Coach NOW for a Complimentary Consultation! – 1-336-856-1600

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