HR Management & Compliance

Shootings and Violence in the Workplace: What You Need to Know (Part 1)

Upsettingly, active shooter drills are becoming commonplace in schools across the United States. And after the workplace shooting that happened at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California, on April 3, active shooter drills are going to become commonplace at various companies, too.
Workplace violence and safety training is now front and center across businesses in various industries. Keep reading to learn more regarding what you need to know about shootings and violence in the workplace.

Identifying Violence in the Workplace Before It Escalates

There are ways to identify potentially violent employees before their violence escalates to catastrophic levels. You’ll want to train your employees, managers, and executives to take note of and report employees who:

  • Exhibit very controlling behavior or are obsessed with holding power;
  • Express violent opinions on a regular basis and use hateful references;
  • Openly display anger and resentment on a frequent basis;
  • Do not get along with others and are convinced that others are out to get them;
  • Are always alone or quiet and don’t ever try to interact with others or attend company functions;
  • Like to play the victim and often threaten to sue others or just blatantly threaten others; or
  • Have a sketchy work history and are always being fired or laid off.

An employee who holds one or more of these inclinations should be considered a “high-risk” employee. And you should develop policies and programs to manage and deter such violent behaviors and tendencies from escalating.

Policies and Programs to Manage and Deter Workplace Violence 

First, it’s important that managers know their employees and that they’re trained to identify when their employees are really stressed out or beginning to exhibit “high-risk” behavior. And as an L&D professional, it’s imperative that you insure that your organization has programs and policies in place to deal with such behavior once an employee is reported. You cannot simply terminate an employee on the spot who is exhibiting warning signs of violent behavior because this could lead to other problems with him or her lashing out in the future.
According to psychologist Marc McElhaney, president of Critical Response Associates, there are five steps you must follow when terminating a violent employee.1

  1. Pause
  2. Confer with colleagues.
  3. Assess the risk.
  4. Control, contain, and stabilize the situation.
  5. Plan the termination.

In addition to having a clear policy in place for reporting and handling situations with violent employees, you’ll also want clear gun policies and conduct policies in place. And you’ll want to strongly consider offering programs where counselors are accessible to employees of all levels when they’re stressed out or need someone to talk to about their stress.
Look out for tomorrow’s post for more information regarding what you need to know about shootings and violence in the workplace.

  1. Firing Violent Employees Safely.” Accessed 4/5/2018.