Can Human Resources Play an Enhanced Role in Managing the Threat of Workplace Violence Through Supervisor Intervention?

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Can Human Resources Play an Enhanced Role in Managing the Threat of Workplace Violence Through Supervisor Intervention?

Posted on: June 22nd, 2022

Human Behavior is a critical component of preventing workplace violence.  So how can employers improve their capability to reduce the threat of violence before it escalates to the homicidal acts we have seen recently. ASK ALAN: How To STOP Workplace Violence? – (alan-adler.com)

May and June were a period of horrific workplace and public shootings. On May 14, 2022, there was the TOPS Market Mass Shooting in Buffalo, New York. Then at the start of the Memorial Day weekend there was the Robb Elementary School Shooting at Uvalde, Texas raising questions about the school’s lock down response plans and the police department’s violence response. On June 1st, there was a shooting at an Oklahoma Hospital involving a distraught patient complaining of back pain following the surgery a week earlier who killed the surgeon, and three others. Can poor communications a contributing factor?

Organizations may be waiting too long before intervening in preventing the escalation of potential problems because of confusion in not understanding the meaning of workplace violence and workplace violence prevention.

Workplace violence is not just the homicidal act of violence by the disgruntled current or former employee or the intimate partner violence spillover into the workplace. But it is the everyday variety of harassment, verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, pushing, shoving, kicking, and fighting, which OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) defines as nonfatal acts of workplace violence.

Does Human Resources (HR) have a role in training supervisors as a workplace violence prevention strategy?

If you view workplace violence prevention as an ongoing process involving multiple intervention strategies, then you agree employers must maximize their internal capabilities early on.  It does not require a complex process, but it does require senior management commitment and investment that allows for training in the recognition of warning signs, risk factors and swift intervention.

So, can Human Resources play a role in making supervisors a workplace violence prevention strategy?

I think so! Supervisors can be an effective part of the workplace violence prevention strategy if HR can play a role in providing them training in how to manage the potentially hostile workplace on aspects of workplace violence, workplace violence prevention, technical expertise and consultation that helps them determine what course of administrative action is most appropriate in specific situations.

My position is that there is NEVER an excuse for a supervisor not knowing their workforce, or for failing to recognize their responsibility in providing a work environment that is RESPECTFUL, SAFE AND CONSISTENT in its handling of both good and poor performers as well as in managing and maintaining appropriate employee behaviors. Could this be asking too much when one considers whether the workforce trust supervisors and even considers them part of the problem?

It is my belief that HR can play an initiative-taking, constructive role in building trust and confidence in the workforce? They can improve the perception that HR overlooks the minor incidents that contribute to the daily victimization of employees reluctant to report in avoiding having a bullseye painted on their chest. Employees believe that HR waits for the escalation as proof of the premediated behavior and overlooks the psychological damage the day-to-day exposure has. Training supervisors in the role they can take to address such behaviors a strategy worth pursuing before it is too late.

Can supervisors be effective in creating positive communications between management and workforce by developing an empathetic leadership style that promotes trust and confidence in the hearts and minds of employees? Employees want to be a part of the solution but view supervisors as part of the problem.

While the questions are many does it make sense for HR to play a role in training supervisors to understand their resources in assessing, evaluating, and addressing the threat of workplace violence, including use of Alternatives to Discipline and use of Alternative Dispute Resolution process, and receiving advice, and counsel regarding personnel and labor law regulations? What do we have to lose now? Despair is not a solution.

The overriding goal of supervisor involvement is to make civility and decency in the workplace as critical as the paycheck. Shouldn’t the objective at this stage be the need to upgrade and humanize the way in which employers deal with all employees every day rather than just to focus narrowly on how to respond to the one who has made threats; is confrontational, disruptive or a disciplinary problem?  So why cannot HR enhance supervisor prevention capability through their visibility by training supervisors to be the solution.

 Long-term planning to improve employee morale pays in human terms.  Studies have shown that companies with effective grievance redress, harassment procedures also reported lower rates of workplace violence and workplace conflict.

While the intention of the Zero Tolerance Policy is well known, how effective is it really when discipline is the perceived outcome. How does an employer motivate an employee to report observations of a co-worker who might be his friend or Godparent to their child if the outcome is discipline and/or separation?

Despite the perception problems, employers must pursue alternative prevention strategies if they are to stem the alarming rise of the homicidal act of workplace violence in recognizing the employer’s duty and responsibility to provide for a safe and secure workplace. A workforce that is convinced that working from home is not as risky as working from the office, plant, warehouse or being shot in the parking lot.

Are there any undocumented obstacles and hurdles? HR needs to be viewed as the Champion of workforce safety and security if they are to dismantle negative perceptions when it comes to workplace violence prevention and zero tolerance.

As an ongoing workplace violence prevention strategy HR can play a role by assisting, assessing, and investigating allegations of workplace violence in the initial stages to address root causes and contributing factors?  Do you have an answer?

Workforce patience is already stretched enough. It might be time for Human Resources to step up as leaders in a unique way if not in this way.  If supervisors are called upon to discipline those who cross the line of civility, why can’t they be called upon to serve as day-to-day mediators and observers. Workplace Violence Is Unfortunately On The Rise Felix Nater Discusses Best Practices Regarding Recent Office Shooting – EIN Presswire (einnews.com)

Supervisors can be trained to recognize dramatic changes in employees such as mood swings, changes in appearance, time and attendance problems, co-worker interactions, and work performance.

Felix P. Nater, CSC is a retired Postal Inspector and security management consultant who partners with organizations to help implement and manage workplace security with an emphasis on workplace violence prevention and active shooter and the workplace mindset. He has spent the last 20 years working with organizations interested in improving, changing or enhancing their internal capabilities.  www.naterassociates.com  

How to Improve the Strategic Value of Workplace Violence Prevention – December 31, 2021

Posted on: January 2nd, 2022

Happy 2022! May it be your best year ever.

In the late winter of 2020, Hanna Hasl-Kelchner asked me to join her on her podcast, Business Confidential Now.  A lot has happened over 2021 that has raised the level of concern, so we decided to reissue the interview in this format to get attention and implementation of some practical solutions.  We had a great conversation then if you’d like to listen to the entire episode. We’ve decided to include short snippets of each subtopic for your listening convenience as I expand upon each subtopic to make the case for proactive engagement, awareness, preparedness, and proactivity as well as training in violence response (active shooter and police response). Listen to the full episode here. https://bit.ly/3f6QhUN

 

There were three topics of particular interest that Hanna focused on that really emphasized the interview and aligned closely with the main theme and what we talked about during the show. Here they are:

 

You could be the subject of workplace violence and not know it.  OSHA has definitions of workplace violence to help employers formulate policies and captures the incidents under 4 specific Categories of Workplace Violence.  Let’s address what workplace violence covers. There are a lot of employees out there who do not know they are victims of workplace violence and who might assume because they do not know and not to report it.

 

Most workplaces to include school places do not truly understand the integration of workplace violence prevention as an organizational function. Workplaces operate believing that it can’t happen to them. They really should not think like that simply because workplaces and their workforce are a microcosm of our society. No business whether a small, medium, or large employer is immune from the reality of workplace violence.

 

Whatever the size or status of your workplace, each workplace should have a workplace violence prevention policy supported by a workplace violence prevention program. It doesn’t have to be complicated or complex, but it should cover specific aspects of the threats and risks your workplace might be exposed to or experiences. The threats and risks run the gamut from physical violence to emotional and traumatic violence otherwise known as psychological violence.

 

Because under the OSHA Duty to Warn Clause, employers are required to provide for a safe workplace violence free of any hazard that might lead to violence, they are expected to introduce workplace violence prevention policies and risk mitigation measures that include training and security measures.

 

The threat of workplace violence is a real and present danger that does not always have to include physical violence. The most frequent incidents are nonfatal such as verbal abuse such as verbal abuse which include name calling, insults, racial and ethnic slurs, taunting, harassment, bullying, sexual harassment, intimidation, threats, and nuisance behavior.

 

The idea is to address these so-called minor or nonfatal incidents as quickly as possible to avoid escalation. Stop the banter and drop the excuses.  OSHA annually documents approximately 2,000 reported incidents of what is commonly referred to as nonfatal and nonfatal incidents like an active shooter or homicide during a physical assault.  The objective is to establish a proactive workplace violence prevention mindset designed to inform the workforce through a policy that clarified what constitutes workplace violence, addresses mutual responsibilities, and speaks to the consequences for breaching the policy. Ultimately the objective is to avoid is the disgruntled employee whom you walk out the front door from returning through the unsecured back door.  https://youtu.be/eA79GElBktg

 

9 Potential workplace violence warning signs you need to know. While there are a host of red flags and warning signs that may apply to any type of workplace, my recommendation is to keep this subject as simple and practical as possible to encourage to overcome the fear of reporting his or her observation. Reporting of the coworker of misconduct is a difficult decision for the employee who relates to the problem and may be empathetic. It doesn’t mean they tolerate what they see, hear, or assume but that they do not want to be wrongly accused or might be concerned about their personal safety.

 

The purpose of workplace violence prevention training is to create a compelling training experience that encourages reporting based on red flags or warning signs and impact to workplace safety and security. The goal is early reporting and swift intervention whether it applies to an employee observation or suspicious non-employee report. Helping the workforce to appreciate the value of reporting is essential in gaining their cooperation.

 

Reporting can be anonymous or for attribution – just report it. One doesn’t have to be perfect or accurate only that it gets reported. Go with gut feelings supported by your training, suspicions, observations, and the recognized behaviors. Don’t put off the observation by rationalizing and justifying what was heard or seen. Waiting is not an option in addressing suspicious behavior.  We want to prevent escalation, prevent an assault, prevent problems by calling management’s attention appropriately and swiftly. https://youtu.be/zzajBm9w6qE

 

Why workplace violence prevention doesn’t need to be expensive. Small and midsize organizations lament over the thought because it will cost too much money and time for something that has never happened before. There is an old Lee Myles Transmission commercial – “pay me now or pay me later”.  Mandated court spending is a lot more than voluntary investment in prevention. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

 

Human Resources and Security Directors have a corporate responsibility that in many instances hampers their ability to stay on top of workplace violence prevention. Larger organizations can have a workforce spread about in multiple locations over many states and countries. Expense is a legitimate pushback on whether to hire or train their workforce onsite but not an area where the courts have been sympathetic to. Being resourceful means doing more within your budgets. Conducting employee surveys can yield incredible results. Don’t worry that will create more work. The worst witness in a civil liability lawsuit is the employee who knew but was never asked. responsibility.

 

I say if you have knowledgeable resources, and your confidence level is high, relying on your internal expertise to develop basic content and present appropriate training content with credibility will go a long way. That person could be a supervisor, the HR Professional. security manager or the safety manager. The truth is that overcoming the arguments of limited resources and time, creativity and imagination can make the workplace violence prevention initiative a cost-effective workforce safety and security investment. Doing it yourself does not have to be sophisticated – just do it and you’d be surprised at the results.  Keep it simple.

 

Resourcefulness is the tip of creativity and innovation.  Organizations that do not employee security managers can be creative in training supervisors. As leaders within organizations supervisors by virtue of their reach and accessibility by the workforce can make the difference. Used as trainers, supervisors can highlight areas of specific concern among their teams daily or as situations dictate. As leaders, supervisors can be the first line of defense in responding to employee reports and complaints, assessing incidents and conduct workplace specific assessments. They are in a strategic position to act swiftly and proactively to observations and employee reports.

 

Speaking of cost effective, the greatest tool that gets the most for the investment is the new employee orientation. It can be a time where the security and human resources can maximize this tool to engage the new employee in articulating the workplace violence prevention policy, explaining prohibited behavior, discussing situations, and emphasizing the value of responsibilities in reporting. This is an opportunity where company and the new employee establish a positive connection. Assumptions are dismantled through clarity. Remember, workplace violence is a microcosm of our society. Referring the new employee to the Employee Handbook will not clarify their assumptions of what is and isn’t.

 

As organizations grow in capacity or operate as larger organizations resourcefulness empowers innovation and creativity in the use of personnel. With a lot of employees, a lot of teams, and a lot of people and departments they can allocate, commit, and invest internal use of their workforce to conduct assessments, evaluate risks, respond to incidents more proactively and assertively.

 

Larger organizations and maybe midsize ones might have the flexibility to roll out dedicated workplace violence prevention personnel to ensure that things are moving along the right direction in support of the policy. They may even consider workplace violence prevention as a project, assigning a ‘project manager” assigned who makes sure needed follow up gets done effectively in alignment with the policy, guidelines, procedures, and timeliness.

 

“Terminations” are a necessary business function, but a difficult management decision that organizations must make. How they are conducted determines the outcome.  Having a separation or termination protocol in place gives aid and comfort to all involved that equity and justice are the objective of ensuring the employee is treated with dignity and respect as part of a professional process.

 

Workplace Violence Prevention is really a leadership function that facilitate activities in setting direction, aligning the effort, and coordinating teams and people to ensure they’re moving in that direction, motivating, and inspiring people at their core. Avoiding escalation and reducing negative emotions by containing problems and minimizing conflict is a leadership responsibility juries in civil cases like to see are in place. Leadership is the function that empowers any organization to maximize the moral and ethical responsibility to provide for a safe and secure workplace. Prevention is really an engaged workforce in organizations that integrates the effort, coordinates the process of prevention into a daily seamless effort through quality training assumed within the company culture. https://youtu.be/tNaQRAW0f0w

 

Listen to the full episode here. https://bit.ly/3f6QhUN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn Marie Westmoreland Celebrates Her One Year Anniversary of Her Syndicated Radio Show “The Empowered Whistleblower”

Posted on: August 11th, 2021

This edition of News & Tips to Combat Workplace Violence – the Blog highlights Dawn Marie Westmoreland as the Guest Blogger discussing the “WHY”, “WHAT” and “HOW” of workplace violence and workplace violence prevention with Felix P. Nater, CSC, Nater Associates, Ltd.  Dawn celebrates her one-year anniversary of her syndicated radio show, “The Empowered Whistleblower”.  Dawn has featured yours truly on the “The Empowered Whistleblower” Show.

The interview focused on tragic workplace homicides specifically the April 15, 2021, shooting incident at the FedEx plant, Indianapolis, Indiana. This senseless incident resulted in the deaths of 8 coworkers and 5 injured totaling 13 victims who were innocently doing their respective jobs. Though this shooting incident was reported by the media and local police as an active shooter, this shooting was actually classified as a mass shooting.

What’s sad is that by April 2021, April was a deadly month of workplace homicides.  There were about 26 victims of workplace shootings. Unfortunately, that’s not all.  As of July 31, 411 mass shootings fitting the Mass Shooting Tracker project criterion, leaving 437 people dead and 1,688 injured, for a total of 2,125 total victims, some including the shooter(s). Though not all workplace related asking the question, why the penchant for violence?

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_the_United_States_in_2021)

WHY? Most businesses do not report workplace violence that does not result in deaths or serious injuries. That’s due to lack of communication, fear of taking action, and of course, lack of awareness. But the numbers are hard to ignore regardless.

Dawn thought the message was appropriate and applicable today in reminding our audience that as employees we all deserve to work in safe and respectful work environments and that proactive measures can be taken to reduce the threat and minimize the risks.

Dawn Marie Westmoreland, who has 30 years’ experience working in HR, is not new to workplace conflict and personnel security threats. So, this edition is ripe in presenting an important opportunity to bring up that while it was Fedex then, it could be any workplace or educational institution that could be victimized in similar fashion tomorrow.

No workplace or educational institution is immune from the threat of workplace violence. How prepared are you really? Is the workplace active shooter an organizational prevention response or an unfortunate reaction to an unforeseen event?

WHAT? OSHA reports that there are about 2 million reported incidents of workplace violence annually. By workplace violence we mean nonviolent acts (verbal abuse, name calling, harassment, bullying, intimidation, and threats) and violent acts (throwing objects with intent to injure, fist fights, sexual assault, lethal force such as armed robbery and active shooter, bomb threats, and terrorist acts).

Dawn’s objective during the radio show, which was also videotaped, was to bring out the value of workplace violence prevention in taking proactive measures that help an organization understand prevention as a philosophy, forging a mindset that understand the approach to take to resolve issues, reduce conflict, deescalate incidents, minimize risk and roll out hasty intervention measures.

We can reduce active shooting incidents and mass shooting fatalities and keep employees safe by taking workplace violence head on. HOW?

By assessing their worksites, employers can identify methods for reducing the likelihood of incidents occurring. OSHA believes that a well-written and implemented workplace violence prevention program, combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training can reduce the incidence of workplace violence in both the private sector and federal workplaces.

OSHA encourages employers to develop additional methods as necessary to protect employees in high-risk industries.” Source:  https://lnkd.in/d9mWD38

Click the link to see and listen to Dawn Marie Westmoreland interview Felix P. Nater, CSC, Security Management Consultant.   https://lnkd.in/dh4wr2q

What If Your CEO Put You in Charge of Workplace Violence Prevention?

Posted on: March 1st, 2021

From all the literature and surveys on the topic of workplace violence, it’s clear that CEOs are truly worried about their organization’s workplace violence prevention capabilities in heading off a potential disgruntled employee active shooter threat or intimate partner violence/domestic violence workplace spillover that results in subsequent negative news coverage.

I bet they worry about whether their capabilities are designed to identify gaps in their efforts, the ability to recognize limitations in their resources, enjoy the ability to anticipate problems, understand how to take corrective measures and whether their policies are proactive or reactive. I bet CEOs worry about whether their own commitment is reflected in their budgets, their resources, their awareness, and their support for training.

So, you are the new Human Resource Professional at your company and your CEO calls you into his office to talk about the workplace violence prevention posture. The CEO is concerned about what’s in the news of late, wants to get a baseline of information to help him understand what his posture actually is. What is your baseline of knowledge? What is your reference point of understanding when the CEO ask you?

  • where are we with respect to our workplace violence prevention posture?
  • do we have a policy that adequately addresses the prohibited conduct and the OSHA 4 Categories of violence?
  • do we have a historical record of the type of incidents and can we track such incidents?
  • what are we doing to assess and evaluate potential at-risk situations and worksites?
  • what topics does the training address and is it providing a noticeable improvement and awareness?
  • are we capable of managing at risk situations?
  • what are the supervisor’s roles in intervention and prevention?

While you might have had some exposure to workplace violence prevention in the past, nothing has prepared you to the scope of this conversation with your CEO. And while the focus is on the HR Professional within your organization, the CEO could be having the same conversation with the plant manager, safety manager, risk manager or shift managers. He will not want to hear only that workplace violence related misconduct were resolved under Zero Tolerance where disciplinary action and ultimately “termination” were the solutions. He wanted to know what strategic role Human Resource was playing. https://www.naterassociates.com/human-resources-huge-role-to-fill/

As the HR Professional you might be familiar with the workplace violence prevention tools, support and guidance provided by the SHRM organization and you want to lead the way in your organization. Admittedly observe that you do not really have the experience or working knowledge to integrate, collaborate, coordinate, and communicate such resources and tools into an organizational response. https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/Pages/Workplace-Violence.aspx

You have mixed emotions, but you take on the initiative by reviewing the SHRM’s Member workplace violence prevention resources and tools on their website. You find it a plethora of valued information and your confidence is emboldened.  

You see the meeting with the CEO as productive and an opportunity to seize the moment to establish a workplace violence prevention program no matter how limited. You are happy to have the CEO’s support. You proceed to acquire the resources needed and acquire the understanding of what workplace prevention entails. You discover  that workplace violence was a lot more than I had thought. It’s feels like a paradigm shift at a needed time in workplace and workforce safety and security. What better time than now to start applying risk mitigation, recognizing potential threats, discovering challenges, and dealing with the opportunities while the interest is high.

                                    You recall an old saying – “strike while the iron is hot”.

Your company is planning to return to work during the Covid-19 transitional period, but you will be operating at reduced workforce levels at your worksites while a major portion of the workforce will continue to work remotely or from their homes until further notice. It is an opportunity to get a lot done.  But a lot is going through your mind knowing that you are in different times calling for different tactics.

This gradual return to the workplace and the definite need to manage work from home and other remote venues mandates proactive thinking in how workplace violence prevention will be managed going forward. While it may not be a major restructuring or design, a diagnosis or assessment will be needed to assess the posture and show how workplace violence prevention gets implemented. It will be important to have a process as the workplace will be facing new threats from the disgruntled workforce returning to the workplace with a variety of emotional and psychological issues.

There will be conflict and opinions directly related to shelter at home, perceptions, restricted movement, post-election emotional fallout and CDC workplace related risk mitigation restrictions and mandates imposing their freedom. It will be a defiant workforce. The difference is with the CEO’s support, you no longer need to worry about resources at your disposal. https://www.naterassociates.com/covid19-return-to-work-risk-mitigation-challenges-and-opportunities/

You see it the time as NOW for your organization to strike while the iron is hot. You want to seize the opportunity to improve your current workplace violence prevention-security posture or may be even roll out something different that will obviously have the CEO’s attention if not support. You recall that OSHA is the authority on the subject from the SHRM website and decide to check it out. https://www.osha.gov/workplace-violence

To help you implement your plans you search for a likely workplace violence prevention consultant, a partner. You figure that it might be a good idea to begin getting the right answers to your many questions. Why wait? Why not begin assessing the situation, addressing the approach? Why not use the time to meet with staff and supervisors to alert them of your organizational intentions with the consultant  present.

When discussing the initiative with staff and managers, you emphasize the importance of being proactive, the need to be empathetic and vigilant in resolving all issues now instead of waiting until there’s a situation that escalates or a surprise active shooter. The ingredients for the prospect of volatility are quite apparent.  You quickly learn that workplaces are in fact veritable lightning rods.

The threats come from a disgruntled current and former employee active shooter and the intimate partner and domestic violence workplace spillover are real and present threats.  You are convinced that both topics are preventable situations with an organizational response. You discover a plethora of resources limiting your excuses. You realize the significant role HR can play in implementing, coordinating and managing the effort.  https://www.osha.gov/workplace-violence

You are interested in addressing both the current and future threats affecting your worksites and day to day threats posed by a disgruntled workforce subjected to CDC (Center for Decease Control) risk mitigation strategies and the OSHA 3900 Document. You anticipate conflict emanating from the CDC risk mitigation strategies that will strain workforce patience and coping skills.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/workplaces-businesses/index.html

You sense a melting pot of personalities, emotions, anxiety, anger, fear, confusion, and politics coming together in a post covid-19 and post-election work environment, issues you will have to deal with. It starts to become clear that there is a paradigm shift the HR professional may have to be prepared to deal with and represent as the organization’s focal point in managing the threat of workplace violence. The approach called for a thoughtful and considerate one. Discipline and “terminations” must not be the immediate or necessary solutions in every case unless you want to increase the unemployment rolls. Mental health will be dominant factor employer consideration

https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/92727-post-covid-19-and-mental-health

As the HR Professional, there are perceptions, impressions, opinions, false flags, misunderstanding and confusion about workplace violence and (school violence) prevention that will need to be rectified. You will need CEO and senior management support in getting their commitment and investment. You must understand the need and importance for applying warning signs, risk factors and contributing factors are prerequisites in any effective workplace violence prevention initiative.

You’ve read enough about potential myths like workplace violence is not preventable, workplace violence won’t happen here or even that background screening will help in identifying the potential insider threat. You want to add perspective.

You diagnose the significant challenge as one of understanding how best to approach workplace violence prevention in this new era. You confirm that not assuming, avoiding convenience and never being expedient (ARC Factor) are key in minimizing risk and managing threats. You caution your CEO and senior managers to avoid common phrases and vernacular. You discourage the CEO against viewing the “Covid-19 Return to Work” as a “new normal” yet, but encourage rather a “transitional interim” towards a stabilized period where Employers and the Workforce can see the light at the end of the tunnel in working together for the future. https://www.naterassociates.com/osha-general-duty-clause-workplace-violence-prevention/

In as much as Employers have a duty and responsibility to provide for a safe and secure workplace (OSHA Duty to Warn Clause) how it is achieved is not only a mandate but also a moral, ethical, and legal obligation. Providing for a safe and secure workplace can be effectively implemented through organizational engagement. You want to be logical, thoughtful, and as comprehensive as possible.

The paradigm shift being considered in this blog will have long-lasting positive benefit to the organization in creating trust, confidence, and respect in the employer’s intentional commitment. Employee perception of disparate treatment will drive the thinking and the behavior that fuels the emotional contagion, rationale, and justification to exact their vengeance.

It will be the role of the Human Resources Professional in alignment with others organizational leaders to create new skillsets in helping the Employer anticipate the challenges by being in position to intervene early. Emphasizing the importance of giving employee reports and complaints credibility that will aid in proper solutions early on and dispelling the notion that management’s only interest is discipline and “termination”.

So where would I suggest you begin as the HR Professional?  Since you probably know enough to get rolling, I would ask you to take a program manager view of how to go about establishing your approach.  One example of “HOW” in creating an effective workplace violence prevention posture is by building management credibility, confidence, and trust through the role of engaged supervisors.  Supervisors will need to become centers of influence that lead by example in being able to recognize the potentially volatile workplace environments, respond to issues and situations and make appropriate decisions. Having the HR Professional’s backing, the ability to manage threats and mitigate risks on the spot will be essential in containing escalation and managing risks.

How?

  • recognizing warning signs, risk factors and contributing situations
  • learning how to manage situations
  • managing one’s behavior in managing the potential hostile workplace
  • discovering what being proactive really means
  • using and relying on organizational resources
  • leading with purpose
  • seizing the moment
  • assessing and evaluating situations on the spot
  • conducting comprehensive worksite specific assessments
  • reporting, advising, and informing all involved

Why a comprehensive worksite assessment in the first place? A comprehensive assessment could very well uncover gaps in the existing violence prevention initiative that could help thwart the next homicidal threat, workplace suicide or intimate partner workplace spillover violence. Gaps may include unintentional consequences of policies, procedures, protocols, access control, visitor management, separations and discipline and new employee screening. Comprehensive takes into consideration the worksite specific nature, policies, plans and procedures, technology, supervision, and training.

During this transitional interim period engaged and involved supervision will be key. Success will be predicated on management’s commitment to empathetic leadership while providing for a safe workplace in addressing inappropriate conduct through root cause analysis.  Treating employees with dignity and respect will take on a different meaning that shows sincerity, care, and concern for their well-being.

Author: Felix P. Nater, CSC Chief Security Consultant, Nater Associates, Ltd. is a retired U.S. Postal Inspector and current security management consultant with over 30 years of experience and expertise. Office: 704-784-0260 / Toll Free: 877-825-8101  https://www.naterassociates.com.

Are Your Perceptions of Workplace Violence Accurate? – Guest Blog by Michael Dorn, December 2, 2020

Posted on: December 2nd, 2020

Introduction: In this Guest Blog by Michael Dorn, we introduce the role of workplace violence from the standpoint of the workforce threat. YES, the workforce threat. While media attention focuses on the student “active shooter” the workforce threat make up a significant percentage of the school homicidal violence.  Our common interest centers on the importance of preventing the threat posed by the disgruntled employee. I recommend a comprehensive approach and design to workplace violence prevention that considers the type of workforce, work environment, past incidents, known risk indicators and contributing factors.

Training and proper program management philosophy and strategies are important. Decisions to conduct training should be a collaborative effort engaging the training consultant’s expertise in coordination with realistic content and delivery formats.

Principals and District Management can take reasonable proactive measures in addressing potential at risk teachers and staff by hastily addressing all reports and observations without assuming or applying shortsighted logic. Sometime educational institutions overlook valuable internal data in reviewing current reports against existing internal and external data.

For example, statistical information pertaining to the 277 FBI-designated active shooter incidents that occurred in the United States from 2000 to 2018 offer valuable insight and analysis from where the emphasis or focus can be directed in validating the potential for violence. https://www.fbi.gov/about/partnership/office-of-partner-engagement/active-shooter-incidents-graphics.

Michael Dorn’s contributions below forms the inescapable reality that educational institutions are also workplace environments for teachers, principals, administrative staff and school board members who are no different from any other employee and their environmental, societal and family risk factors.

What’s often taken for granted is the notion that the only perpetrators of school violence are the ‘mentally ill’ students.

But what about the disgruntled principal or teacher and the factors negatively impacting their mental well-being. Just like the student who has access to the school, who scrutinizes the at-risk factors and behaviors of the principal? Whether at a warehouse, manufacturing plant, office building or educational institution the workforce threat is a real and present danger.  Therefore, Workplace Violence Prevention should be an ongoing process involving multiple intervention strategies that includes the entire workforce and students.  It should be devoid of myths, assumptions or special treatment that limits critical assessment and application of threat assessment principles.

On May 6, 1940, the principal of South Pasadena Middle School opened fire at his school district’s office building and killed three victims.  He then drove to his school and murdered two teachers.  This tragedy is one of eleven fatal school attacks carried out by school employees in the United States to date.  In addition to fatal shootings carried out by teachers and school administrators, our nation’s second most deadly attack at a K12 school was carried out by a disgruntled and deeply troubled school board member in 1927.

After most of the 2,000 pounds of explosives detonated blowing up the Bath School, the attacker drove his vehicle to the school and carried out a suicide bombing killing 43 students and employees.

These attacks make up a significant percentage of the active assailant and targeted school attacks at U.S. K12 schools.  And while these attacks occurred many years ago, more recent attacks in the Lee County, Florida Public School System and at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville demonstrate that violent acts committed by school employees is still a concern.

Unfortunately, many K12 school systems and non-public schools have dedicated significant amounts of time, energy and budget on barricading training and devices while neglecting prevention measures for acts of violence that are far more common than an active assailant forcing entry to a locked classroom.

In reality, there has been only one fatal attack at a U.S. K12 school to date where an attacker forced entry to a locked classroom, entered the room and killed victims.  This shooting occurred at a reservation high school in Red Lake, Minnesota.  Having worked that case as an expert witness, I can state with relative certainty that neither barricading nor door blocking devices would have saved any lives in that attack.  While this attack method could certainly be used in future attacks, it has simply not been a common attack method.  In contrast, lethal attacks by school employees do represent a pattern that deserves more attention than it has received.

This is one of many examples of how easy it can be for any type of organization to fail to align prevention and preparedness measures with actual violence risk levels.  This example also demonstrates how important preemployment screening measures, training programs, assessment capabilities and other approaches to prevent acts of workplace violence can be.

Has your organization carefully evaluated how well your violence prevention and preparedness measures align with actual risks?

Thankfully, there are skilled experts with advanced knowledge in this important area that can help organizations develop approaches tailored to fit their unique needs.  I am appreciative that one of these experts has been kind enough to allow me to contribute this guest blog on this important topic.

Felix P. Nater, CSC of Nater Associates, Ltd. is a workplace violence prevention consultant who helps organizations through executive leadership how to develop and manage proper ways to handle threats of workplace violence through an educated, involved, coordinated and vigilant organizational response.

Time To Get Ducks In Row On Internal/External Communications

Posted on: June 5th, 2020

In this Guest Blog Post of News & Tips to Combat Workplace Violence, Mr. Rich Klein, President of Crisis Management with over 25 years of advising companies, law firms and organizations about crisis management and crisis communications shares some perspectives about Covid-19 Return to Work issues.

My intro: I am almost certain you will relate to the points of view Mr. Klein offers simply because many of us operate from the perspective that “It won’t happen to us” so why plan.

Failure to plan for a crisis before, during and after will catch many company leaders off guard in a crisis. You want to know why? Because businesses did not make crisis management planning part of their overall business planning. It’s much like what I have been saying about workplace violence prevention. If you don’t have a prevention plan today, you will have a crisis management issue tomorrow.

So whether your business or organization is a small, midsize or large size Employer without a crisis management mindset, you will find that prevention and preparedness will find you woefully unprepared on the day of the crisis.

The pandemic crisis we find ourselves in is being called a “new normal” of which I will call an “interim phase” and your failure to anticipate the need for a crisis management plan is probably making you feel exposed, vulnerable and unprepared.

Take Rich Klein’s perspectives to heart and then click on this link  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140613154848-6790863-5-reasons-leaders-fail-at-crisis-management to drive his point home.

Reopening your business or organization during a painful pandemic calls for the most effective messaging to all your stakeholders.

There will be new laws/regulations, new employee protocols, increased liability risks – and hopefully a different approach to branding and marketing.

Many businesses are facing backlash from earlier layoffs with more job cuts that may be unavoidable in coming weeks. Maybe you didn’t handle the communication of prior layoffs well – and that has decreased morale among existing employees. And, I’ve already heard from some businesses with executives and staff who tested positive for coronavirus and are nervous about customers/clients finding out.

Or worse, management is lying about it in public statements to customers, the press and on social media.

Other businesses, particularly in manufacturing and hospitality, have been accused of not providing personal protective equipment at a facility that required it and now are being harshly criticized by their own employee whistleblowers.

Finally, some big companies and institutions took SBA loans that didn’t need them at the expense of starving smaller businesses and are currently on the receiving end of much negative press that will harm reputation and more.

As you can see, there are many issues that you will need to communicate effectively about right now and in the near future.

I recently started offering very affordable, confidential consultations via Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts, phone or any format that works for you.

We will talk about internal /external communications specific to your company and industry, corporate social responsibility messaging and how to respond to the media and on social media regarding coronavirus and other crisis situations.

Please get in touch by emailing rich@richkleincrisis.com and stay safe.