Supervisors and administrators in a workplace must have regular conversations with their workforce about the potential occurrence of violence in the workplace. It’s essential for the employees to be aware of warning signs of workplace violence and report them immediately.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 453 U.S. workers were victims of homicide in 2018 due to workplace violence. Meanwhile, recent trends show that two million people report some degree of workplace violence every year.
Considering this, workplaces should be familiar with warning signs of workplace violence to contain the situation as soon as possible.
Below, we discuss some warning signs for existing or possible workplace violence in the future.
Warning Signs To Look Out For
Typically, violence in the workplace isn’t exactly a sudden occurrence. Certain events escalate and lead to the final outcome. However, certain incidents can serve as warning signs indicating a potential for violence in the future.
If an employee harbors feelings of hatred towards their supervisor, co-workers, or company as a whole (and is not open about those feelings), there’s a chance these feelings could lead to a violent outburst of some kind.
As an employer, if you notice these signs in your surroundings, you should report to the proper authorities. Meanwhile, if supervisors see these signs, they should take immediate action.
Other triggers that may lead to violence in the workplace include but not limited to: demotions, terminations, sudden or traumatic life change events such as divorce, custody issues and untreated mental illness.
If an employer makes direct threats, such as making a claim that they will commit physical harm to another person, the action should immediately be reported. In most cases, this is considered unethical and unprofessional behavior.
Threats should not be ignored since there’s a chance an individual may carry out these words. Employees have been known to threaten violence against co-workers and companies, even when the claims seemed far-fetched at first.
If an employer constantly intimidates a co-worker or a subordinate, they could inflict further harm upon the person. On the flip side, the intimidated individual may take extreme measures to retaliate, which can lead to violence.
It is another indicator that should not be ignored by any means as it’s a threat of aggression against a person and/or company. Here are some tools such individuals may use:
- Verbal Threats: They may verbally threaten others or use derogatory language to intimidate them.
- Unwarranted Demands: They may demand that others do their work for them or face dire consequences. This is controlling behavior and can lead the other person to retaliate with violence.
- Fear Tactics: They may use fear tactics as a means of control, such as making others believe they will lose their job due to disobedience.
Anger issues are a massive no-no in the workplace. If an employer or supervisor has constant anger issues, they need to seek help. Uncontrolled anger can lead to violence if unchecked and not handled by any means necessary.
People with anger management issues may exhibit the following types of behavior:
- Being unnecessarily agitated and excessively loud
- Defending themselves by saying they don’t have any ”other options.”
- Damaging property, such as slamming the doors and throwing objects
- Refusing to follow procedures and workplace policies
Paranoia makes people think someone is out to get them, which leads others to feel unsafe. These types of individuals are likely to lash out at their co-workers or employers because they perceive threats where there are none.
Those with paranoia tend to exhibit the following behaviors:
- Believing that people want them gone for no reason
- Pinning the blame on others, even when they’re not at fault
- Believing that everything around them is out to get them
- Making up unbelievable conspiracy theories because they believe others are after them
People who cannot cope with their paranoia or delusions can quickly become violent as a defense mechanism. It becomes even more likely if the employee feels like they don’t control their work-life.
If an employer is harsh towards certain groups of people based on race, gender, or religion (or a specific group), it may lead to workplace violence.
If an employer tries to create division in the rest of the workforce, they should be reported to the authorities immediately.
An employee demonstrating signs of drug or alcohol abuse could pose a threat to others in the workplace. The employee may seem hostile, be overly emotional, or act uncharacteristically.
If employees observe someone with substance abuse issues acting this way at work, they should not hesitate to report the behavior immediately. Sometimes, this kind of behavior is due to an unprecedented event, such as the death of a loved one.
For instance, Covid-19 inspired workplace violence, leading to many people behaving out of character.
Are You Unprepared for a Crisis?
Unfortunately, many companies are not prepared to deal with situations of violence in the workplace. Here are some signs that your management team is not prepared for such a crisis:
- Lack Of a Plan: You don’t have a plan in place to handle an incident of violence in the workplace, which may increase the risk of the situation going out of hand.
- Lack Of Safety Measures: You don’t have safety measures in place that can help if a violent situation breaks out at work.
Employees who are on their own when an incident of workplace violence breaks out may feel frightened and not know what to do or how to react. Therefore, it’s crucial for organizations to know what they can do if they notice signs of potential workplace violence.
What Can You Do?
First and foremost, the management needs to convey the proper response to workplace violence to employees. It includes:
- Staying Calm: Even if you feel scared and emotionally distraught, never react with anger. It’s important to remain calm in order to defuse the situation.
- Immediately Contacting Authorities: If you suspect someone has committed violence at work, call the police immediately. Make sure everyone is safe before doing so.
- Asking For Assistance: If you suspect an employee is showing signs of workplace violence, ask your supervisor or human resources department for assistance. This may include having another person present at all times when the violent individual is around.
Most importantly, organizations should partner with an experienced security firm to ensure the safety of their employees. JS Security Consulting, LLC is a Nashville-based security firm providing top-of-the-line security for organizations of all sizes.
The firm designates knowledgeable law enforcement professionals with relevant experience for each security contract, ensuring that the customers get the best service.
Some benefits of working with a security firm like JS Security Consulting, LLC include:
- Crime Deterration: The professionals from a security service understand how to deter a crime from taking place. This includes knowing what questions to ask and when they can be requested. It also involves having active communication with the employees and encouraging reporting.
- Sense of Security: A security firm provides employees with a feeling of security. Employees may feel secure knowing that there are people present who can help if something goes wrong.
- Peace of Mind: Working with professionals trained to handle all kinds of scenarios regarding workplace violence provides peace of mind. This is especially true when your organization doesn’t have the budget or resources to hire a full-time security team.
In many cases, workplace violence can be prevented if you notice the warning signs earlier and take action accordingly. Some warning signs include unmanaged anger issues, bullying, physical or emotional abuse, and substance abuse.
Having said that, it’s essential for organizations to be well-prepared to handle a violent situation in the workplace. If you feel your organization is not prepared, consider hiring an experienced security firm like JS Security Consulting, LLC.