HR Management & Compliance, Learning & Development

Preparing L&D Pros for Workplace Violence: How to Identify and Assess Risk

In 2018, it’s becoming imperative that every employer develop a comprehensive and effective workplace violence action plan, especially because the average workplace is now 18 times more likely to experience an incident of workplace violence than a fire, and active shooters are becoming much more likely.violence
Here’s what you need to know about workplace violence right now and what you can do as an L&D professional.

Know the Major Types of Workplace Violence

Here are the four major types of workplace violence that you need to know about.

  1. Criminal intent. This type of violence usually involves a criminal external to an organization that is trying to rob, vandalize, shoplift, or trespass in some way. Sometimes, such criminals can also have the objective of terrorizing an organization’s employees if they object to its work or mission.
  2. Customer or client. When customers or clients are angered or forced to wait for something in nonideal environments, they can sometimes get violent. For example, customers waiting on the tarmac in a plane they can’t leave for extended periods of time might become hostile. Or, customers who were promised something important to their livelihoods (i.e., medication or healthcare services) that wasn’t delivered as promised or on time might also become violent.
  3. Worker on worker. When employees are terminated, demoted, or otherwise treated unfairly without warning and never underwent a thorough criminal or mental health background check can sometimes get violent if they feel they were wronged.
  4. Personal relationship. When an employee is being harassed or terrorized by an abusive spouse or stalker who doesn’t work for the organization, violent situations can occur if the perpetrator is granted access into the workplace. He or she will most likely attack the employee who is central to his or her rage or obsession but can also lash out at others who get in his or her way.

Identify the Signs of Workplace Violence

Some common signs that workplace violence is occurring include but aren’t necessarily limited to:

  • Threatening behavior, such as shaking fists and throwing objects;
  • Verbal abuse and written threats with intent to harm others;
  • Acts, words, gestures of harassment and bullying, and other demeaning behavior intended to humiliate, embarrass, annoy, or scare another person; and
  • Physical attacks like shoving, kicking, hitting, etc.

Properly Assess Your Organization’s Risk for Workplace Violence

Don’t wait until your workplace experiences a grave act of violence before you act. Assess your organization’s risk for workplace violence today to mitigate the likelihood that it will occur.
Assemble a threat assessment team (TAT) or hire a trusted outside third party to assess your organization’s risk for workplace violence. Assess things like your safety policies and procedures, your building’s safety risks, how your teams log and report incidents, and those individuals who are exhibiting signs of workplace violence or who might be a high risk of experiencing workplace violence, etc.
For more information about assessing your organization’s risk for workplace violence, read this helpful post published by and this Workplace Violence Inspection Checklist originally published by the University of California, Berkley.
Watch out for tomorrow’s post for more information on what you need to know about workplace violence right now and what you can do as an L&D professional.