Saturday, December 15, 2012

Violence In The Workplace

With the recent tragedy and murder of school children and others in Connecticut, we are reminded that there can also be violence in the workplace.   From time to time, we have seen employees go "Postal" coming to work with a weapon to do harm to other employees.   This CEO Blogger's wake up call happened when the bi-polar, divorced wife of an employee came to one of our offices with a knife in hand presumably intending to harm her former husband.   From that point on, we installed security systems in all of our offices making it impossible for anyone to just enter our offices without being identified and buzzed in to our facilities.   We also have cameras in various locations in our buildings so that we can monitor both internal and external activities. 

These simple precautions are the least we can do to protect our employees.   In addition, we do drug and credit screening in an attempt to weed out potential new hire employees that may have issues that could impact their behaviors.   But these steps, in and of themselves. are not enough to guarantee a safe work environment.   Many families are dysfunctional dealing with marital and family issues, divorce,  substance abuse and serious financial issues.   As such, given the seriousness of these problems, this CEO Blogger is often amazed that employees can function at work at all, at any level of competence, when facing these issues.

Sometimes it is obvious when an employee is in crisis, while most of the time these things are happening below the surface.   However, any manager with direct report employees must be vigilant in trying to identify employees in crisis.   While there are privacy issues that must be considered,  it is critical that when we see an employee in crisis, we point that employee in the right direction for help.   Most companies have Employee Assistance Programs designed to provide counseling and assistance.   Providing this crisis intervention is very important to preventing the potential for work place violence. 

Finally, in many cases the violence that has occurred in the work place happened after disciplinary action, or terminations.   As such, not only do these employment practices, that happen every day, need to be documented, they must be done sequentially giving the employee time to digest and internalize the process.   Termination should never be a surprise, out of the blue.   If someone is not performing in the current job and there is no other suitable position within the company, providing the employee the opportunity to resign, rather than be fired, is the best option.  

Still, if dealing with someone unstable, precautions must be taken to make sure that violence is not the end result.   Sadly, violence in the workplace is a fact of life.   The best we can do is take very step possible to make sure we maintain a safe working environment. 

No comments:

Post a Comment