Addressing Workplace Violence

Posted on January 2, 2011 by VITAL WorkLife

The topic of workplace violence has been in the news again, lately. At VITAL WorkLife, we're here to help, and encourage anyone to call us right away, and at any time of the day or night, if they have concerns about a potentially violent situation with an employee or co-worker.

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Here are some warning signs to look for—note that most occur over a period of time:

  • Significant behavior changes
  • Change in mood—from positive to negative
  • Excessive absenteeism or unaccounted-for time
  • Demands on supervisor time
  • Personal issues coming up at work—family, finances, legal
  • Chemical abuse issues
  • Poor interactions with co-workers
  • Concentration problems
  • Periods of aggressive behavior
  • Recklessness with job duties
  • Blaming others for problems or issues
  • Isolation or withdrawal from others
  • Deterioration in hygiene habits
  • Paranoia
  • Romantic obsession with co-worker
  • Fascination with weapons

If you come across a potentially violent situation, here are some guidelines on what you can do:

  • Assess the situation
  • Clear the scene of other employees, and contact security or police, as appropriate
  • Do not make judgmental statements
  • Be mindful of weapons—do not put yourself at risk
  • Keep a safe distance
  • Maintain non-threatening body language—arms at side, feet shoulder-width apart, making eye contact but not staring
  • Speak calmly and softly
  • Listen—talking tends to calm people down
  • Stay alert to changes in behavior or movement

Your goal is to try to defuse the situation, or keep things from escalating until help arrives.

We Can Help

We can provide onsite or webinar-based training to your managers and supervisors on recognizing and effectively dealing with workplace violence and conflict. Also, if there has been an incident in the workplace, it's important to address the needs and fears of your employees as soon as possible. Again, we're here to help. Our counselors are skilled in Critical Incident Response (CIR) and can often be onsite within 24 hours, if needed. Please contact us for more information.

Contact VITAL WorkLife at 800.383.1908 or access resources through your VITAL WorkLife App

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