Workplace Violence: Be Safe & Sound, But Be Prepared: #TChat Recap

Most victims of violence feel powerless and alone.  I’d argue most bystanders and witnesses feel the same.

Most of us want to believe that folks are basically decent, not monsters that erupt at work or at home or anywhere and take lives with them.

It can’t happen here.

Which is why many employers don’t plan for workplace violence until there’s violence, unfortunately. And even then…

In a Workforce Management article titled Waking Up to the Risks of Workplace Violence, the author writes:

In one recent training class, a senior HR leader told me he had no issues of workplace violence.

Yet, as we continued to talk, it emerged that a man had come into the company’s Midwest office looking for his girlfriend. He wanted to hurt her, and when he couldn’t find her, he pulled out a gun and shot five employees.
Stunned, I turned back to the senior leader and asked if he knew about it. “That was different; it was more of a domestic violence issue that took place at our plant.” The amazing part of this discussion was that we were in Oklahoma City, the site of one of the worst incidents of workplace violence in U.S. history.
The lesson is that violence that occurs in the workplace is workplace violence whether it takes place between spouses/domestic partners, between co-workers, by a third-party with a relationship to the organization (client, partner, etc.) or in conjunction with the commission of other crimes.

And that’s critical to understand — violence is violence is violence and companies need to be prepared.
That was what #TChat was all about last night — the dark side of workplace culture, violence and what to do and not do.  You can read the transcript here and here were last night’s questions:
  • Q1:  How does everyday violence & security breaches (like Wikileaks) impact workplace culture policies?
  • Q2:  How does your org address workplace violence during onboarding – and at other times?
  • Q3:  What is HR’s role in workplace violence intervention, prevention and post-incident?
  • Q4:  What is the CEO’s role in addressing workplace violence before it occurs, when it occurs and after?
  • Q5:  Under OSHA, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace. Discuss.
  • Q6:  How can EAPs be designed to provide maximal workplace/domestic violence assistance?
  • Q7:  How effective are your org’s workplace incivility, bullying and violence prevention programs
  • Q8:  If a colleague is threatened with violence at work from anyone, what should you do and why?

As per usual, we had a great group of HR and business professionals participating and sharing their knowledge.  It was refreshing to hear from some organizations that bake incivility, bullying and workplace violence awareness and prevention right into their hiring, onboarding and ongoing employee performance activities, whether they have an EAP or not.  A special thank you to Felix Nater for sharing his workplace violence expertise.

Along those lines, here are some ways to enlist your employees’ help in ensuring that your workplace is a violence-free zone (from the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence website):

  • Empower employees to take a stand—as caring co-workers and as your company’s ambassadors.
  • Let employees know they will not be penalized for seeking help—for themselves, their families, or co-workers in need.
  • In conjunction with your human resources department and EAP program (if available), offer counseling and referral for both victims of partner violence and abusers.
  • Help employees recognize the signs of a troublesome or abusive relationship and know where to turn for assistance, for themselves and for co-workers.
  • Invite local resource groups, such as local shelters, counseling groups and/or law enforcement representatives to make a presentation to your company. Most groups are happy to provide speakers and information to interested parties. (National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October is a great time to do this!)
  • Give each employee access to brochures and flyers to distribute to their schools, religious organizations, clubs, and other civic or social groups.
  • Invite interested employees to form a communications task force, working within the guidelines established by your cross-functional steering committee to implement your partner violence communications plan.

You can also review all the information we shared in the pre-TChat posts:

Be safe and sound, but be prepared.