Benefits and Compensation

Your Workplace Violence Program—4 Essential Components

Sem, who is CPP CSC certified, is the president of Sem Security Management in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He was joined by Di Ann Sanchez, PhD, SPHR, the founder and president of DAS HR Consulting LLC, at a recent webinar sponsored by BLR®.

The Four Essential Components of a workplace violence (WPV) Program

1. Prevention—the most effective and powerful way to avoid violence

  • Put policies, plans, and procedures in place that are comprehensive and specific to your culture and environment.
  • Conduct employee and supervisor training:
  • Special training for front line staff who deal with the public—hotel, retail, healthcare—and for those handling cash or pharmaceuticals.
  • Emphasize the importance of staff awareness.
  • Clarify the duty of employees to report.
  • Clarify duty of management to respond, not rationalize, minimize, or excuse. (“That’s just Joe,” “Terry’s having a bad day, a little stress, she’ll get over it.”)
  • Cover how to recognize, de-escalate, and safely manage aggressive, confrontational, and threatening behavior.

2. Mitigation and De-escalation

When a threat occurs, conduct detailed interviews with the victim(s) and other knowledgeable persons concerning:

  • History of relationship with the aggressor.
  • Intimidating, threatening, or violent behavior of the aggressor.
  • Aggressor’s training, use, and/or access to weapons.
  • Historical and current use or abuse of alcohol and drugs by the aggressor and victim.
  • Mental and emotional history of the aggressor and victim as known.
  • Current employment status of the aggressor and victim, plus location and stability.
  • Current family relationships of the aggressor and victim—proximity, intensity, dynamics, support (Sometimes the family will get a person committed, which the company can’t do.)
  • Other current or imminent issues that could be disruptive or stressful.
  • Identification of other sources of independent, credible verification/perspective for both parties.

Other steps may include:

  • Conduct a detailed check of public records, including law enforcement records.
  • Conduct a very detailed interview with the aggressor.

Assessing the risk, consider:

  • Exactly what has happened or is alleged to have happened?
  • Who reported the incident/situation? Is that person credible?
  • Who are possible witnesses and others who may be able to provide useful input?
  • What are the possible motivations for the incident/situation?
  • How imminent is the possibility for further negative or harmful action?
  • Are persons who are involved and/or in the vicinity reasonably safe at this time?
  • What about the setting or situation may permit or facilitate, rather than prevent or impede, violence?
  • How vulnerable or at risk is the potential target(s)?
  • Who or what other functions (e.g. Public Relations, outside counselors, outside law enforcement or security experts) should be brought in?
  • Is there any imminent potential impact on the employer, its reputation, and its ability to function?
  • Will there likely be media attention concerning this situation/incident?

Are class action lawyers peering at your comp practices? It’s likely, but you can keep them at bay by finding and eliminating any wage and hour violations yourself. Our editors recommend BLR’s easy-to-use FLSA Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide. Click here for details


Possible mitigation strategies include:

  • Do nothing, continue to monitor situation.
  • Defuse stress of person(s) involved.
  • Separate persons involved.
  • Commission a psychological Risk Assessment.
  • Assign ongoing remediation plan or “Last Chance Agreement.”
  • Discipline up to termination for cause.
  • Obtain clinical intervention/treatment.
  • Obtain Restraining Orders/Orders of Protection—but remember that they can be inflammatory.
  • Involve law enforcement—can be very supportive and useful. However, this can be inflammatory as well. An undercover person nearby may be a good approach.
  • Establish Ongoing Contact—you never know what people are thinking; you may have someone who got on well with the aggressor check in on him or her.
  • Implement additional security measures.

3. Response to Incidents

In 95 percent of situations, says Sem, your own staff is sufficient to address the situation, but be sure not to send your responders into something they are not trained for, such as an active shooter situation, says Sem.

Be especially careful with panic buttons—responders tend to rush into the unknown.

4. Recovery

After the incident, here are the questions to ask yourself, says Sems:

  • Is the event truly over?
  • What are the chances of recurrence?
  • What can we do for those involved and affected? (A shooting affects everyone. Companies that recover the best are the ones willing to spend resources, time, and effort on counseling, Sem says.)
  • What are lessons learned?
  • How and what should we communicate with affected/Interested internal and external audiences? (A shooting will attract national and international press.)

Response to violence—just one of many challenges comp and benefits managers face. Probably your most basic challenge is wage and hour. It should be simple, but it’s just not. Complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is one of the most confusing and challenging things comp managers have to do. How can you tell if they are doing it right?

There’s only one way to find out what sort of wage/hour shenanigans are going on—regular audits.

To accomplish a successful audit, BLR’s editors recommend a unique checklist-based program called the Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide®. Why are checklists so great? It is because they’re completely impersonal, and they force you to jump through all the necessary hoops, one by one. They also ensure consistency in how operations are conducted. And that’s vital in compensation, where it’s all too easy to land in court if you discriminate in how you treat one employee over another.

Experts say that it’s always better to do your own audit and fix what needs fixing before authorities do their audit. Most employers agree, but they get bogged down in how to start, and in the end, they do nothing. There are, however, aids to making the FLSA self-auditing relatively easy.

What our editors strongly recommend is BLR’s Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide. It is both effective and easy to use, and it even won an award for those features. Here are some reasons our customers like it:

  • Plain English. Drawing on 30 years of experience in creating plain-English compliance guides, our editors have translated FLSA’s endless legalese into understandable terms.
  • Step-by-step. The book begins with a clear narrative of what the FLSA is all about. That’s followed by a series of checklists that utilize a simple question-and-answer pattern about employee duties to find the appropriate classification.

All you need to avoid exempt/nonexempt classification and overtime errors, now in BLR’s award-winning FLSA Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide. Find out more.


  • Complete. Many self-audit programs focus on determining exempt/nonexempt status. BLR’s also adds checklists on your policies and procedures and includes questioning such practices as whether your break time and travel time are properly accounted for. Nothing falls through the cracks because the cracks are covered.
  • Convenient. Our personal favorite feature: a list of common job titles marked “E” or “NE” for exempt/nonexempt status. It’s a huge work saver.
  • Up to Date. If you are using an old self-auditing program, you could be in for trouble. Substantial revisions in the FLSA went into effect in 2004. Anything written before that date is hopelessly—and expensively—obsolete. BLR’s Wage & Hour Self-Audit Guide includes all the changes.