It seems like we hear about it everywhere. Another mass shooting at a business that kills six employees, or an innocent healthcare aide being assaulted by the patient she was trying diligently to save.
The truth is that the issue of workplace violence is much bigger than just these reported incidents. Every day, these types of situations occur at businesses throughout the country. However, you don’t have to be a victim. Here are six things you need to know about workplace violence and how to prevent it from happening in your organization.
#1: Preventing Workplace Violence Starts With a Zero-Tolerance Policy
Employers intent on preventing incidents often need plans in place. According to OSHA, the best way to combat workplace violence starts with having a zero-tolerance policy. This includes making sure all employees, contractors and other members of the organization know your stance on verbal and physical abuse. Continuous training and reminders of this policy are also helpful.
#2: Certain Industries Have a Greater Risk for Workplace Violence
To determine your company’s risk for a workplace violence incident, it is important to also analyze your business niche. Due to the nature of the work, certain industries have a greater chance for an incident than others. Each industry has its own level of risk, so it is important to analyze the one your business is involved in and make decisions based on your unique needs.
For example, healthcare workers are especially vulnerable to workplace violence due to varying levels of patient pain, mental health and other factors. Those who work in highly stressful environments or those that include serving alcohol are also a greater chance of an incident.
#3: Workplace Violence Isn’t Always Physical
When discussing workplace violence and brainstorming prevention techniques, it's important to remember that incidents aren’t always physical. Verbal and emotional abuse also counts as a form of workplace violence. Studies have shown that most major physical altercations in the workplace start with some sort of previous mental abuse, so it is vital to train managers and supervisors accordingly while simultaneously including it in your organization’s zero-tolerance policy.
#4: Improved Mental Health Policies Decrease the Risk for Workplace Violence
Having policies that promote positive mental health is a good way to help prevent workplace violence. Encourage employees to seek out various stress-relief techniques, including the option to take mental health days. You can also opt to include mental healthcare as part of your overall employee benefits plan, which can sometimes ease the burden that overworked employees are facing. Make it clear that you care about the overall wellness of your workers.
#5: Know When to Involve Law Enforcement
There comes a point when employers need to alert local law enforcement to the potential risk of violence. If there becomes an issue with an employee or former employees threatening violence, stalking, or something related, it is important to get in touch with authorities in your local area immediately.
#6: Even Small Employers Need to Pay Attention to the Risk
While it may seem like only big companies with hundreds of employees encounter workplace violence, the truth is that it could happen anywhere. It's important for even small employers to have a plan in place and continue the ideal of a safe environment.
While it might not always be possible to eliminate workplace violence, it's important to take appropriate steps to protect your employees. These tips and ideas are a great place to start.
If you’re looking for more information on how to make your work environment the best for your employees while streamlining HR processes, please get in touch with our Employer Flexible team today.