When threats of violence are internal, its necessary to have a system that is able to recognize and respond to those threats.
Recognizing Threats of Potential Violence:
Among many acts of workplace violence, there have been warning signs that are indicative of an impending violent episode. Some of the red flags for potential violence are: externalizes blame for personal mistakes and difficulties, uses physical/verbal intimidation and/or threats, drug and/or alcohol abuse often accompanied by excessive absenteeism, entitlement mentality, socially isolated, romantic obsession/stalking of a former or current worker, fascination with previous incidents of workplace violence, verbal expression or paranoid/suspicious thought, brandishing a weapo0n, or weapons, at the workplace, and religious or political belief concerning ideologies often of a generally perceived extremist nature.
Handling Threats of Potential Violence
An easily accessible, highly centralized system for handling reports of threats and/or harassment is necessary to address violence in its early stages. Some effective means in which organizations may receive reports of threats and/or harassment is a 24-hour hotline or the receipt of reports by security, human resources, or supervisors.
When threats and/or harassment occur, it is critical that organizations promptly and thoroughly investigate the situation. A protocol outline the steps an organization may take if the threatening and/or harassing behavior persists:
- A verbal warning delivered by the supervisor.
- A written reprimand, which reiterates the dissatisfaction expressed by the verbal warning.
- Termination. The employer should give the employee-specific reasons for his or her dismissal while remaining factual and objective. Employees should be treated whit respect, dignity, and given ample prior notice when being terminated.
It is important that an organization document all three disciplinary stages. Also, it is imperative that an organization attempt to evaluate an employee’s social, emotional, and financial situation before termination, on the basis of the warning signs given earlier, in order to be prepared for any retaliation by the soon-to-be former employee.
Fostering a Supportive Work Environment
This involves the strengthening of interpersonal communication between management and employees, as well as between departments. Several ways in which an organization may do this are: Encourage an open-door policy among co-workers, a suggestion box to solicit employee input, and recognize and reward employees for their accomplishments and contributions.