A former employee with a grudge against his supervisor enters the workplace armed with a gun and kills the supervisor and three other employees before turning the gun on himself.
After the incident, co-workers said that when the employee was fired, he threatened to “get” the supervisor.
Unfortunately, nobody took him seriously.
You’ve heard stories like this on the evening news, and maybe there’s even been an incident in your area.
No one should fear violence on the job. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, workers rank feeling safe in the workplace as their third-highest job satisfaction priority.
To help prevent violence and make your workers feel safe, take these steps:
- Communicate and enforce a zero-tolerance violence prevention policy that prohibits workers from bringing into the workplace any weapon or other objects that could be used in a threatening way, assaulting or threatening to assault someone, or engaging in such hostile behavior as destroying property, stalking fellow workers, or obsessing on a grudge.
- Investigate any violation of this policy, and take appropriate disciplinary action (up to, and including, dismissal in severe cases). For less serious violations, counseling in addition to discipline, might be more effective. Employees who need help dealing with personal or work problems that generate anger or hostility should be able to take advantage of an Employee Assistance Program.
- Make it easy for employees to report threats or incidents of violence, whether they involve co-workers, customers, suppliers, visitors, or even people unrelated to the workplace – for example, a violent spouse or partner who comes into the workplace to act out domestic violence. Make sure your workers understand that anyone who comes forward or who participates in any investigation of workplace violence will not face retaliation and will receive protection from predators.
- Provide options for employees who are victims of violence, feel threatened, or witness a violent or potentially violent situation. If there are immediate safety concerns, the employee or a co-worker should call 911. Otherwise, first encourage the employee to approach their supervisor or manager. If this person is unavailable, employees can go to Human Resources or the head of company security.