Starting anything new can be a struggle, as can revamping or adding to existing programs. Often an organization will experience a violent event that can cost them both monetarily and have serious reputational impacts. Even worse, a violent event can lead to loss of a beloved co-worker and family member with long-lasting impact on the organization.
Sometimes it’s not a violent event that directly impacts the organization but one that happens elsewhere that leads us to accept that we can no longer have the “it’s not going to happen here,” mentality.
We often get asked, “how or where do I start?”, “what do I need to get started?” “what is the best way to approach this?” I have learned over the years through benchmarking with many organizations that there are many ways of managing and running a workplace violence prevention program – it’s never a one-size fits all solution.
Here are a few tips that can help to get you started:
The Workplace Violence & Threat Management Policy
Always start with a well-thought out corporate policy that will serve as the beginning of your new program. A good policy should provide clear guidance to employees, contractors, and students (if applicable) and clearly define the expectations of your organization for workplace violence prevention conduct. A good policy will also provide guidance to supervisors on how to respond and report threats of workplace violence.
A workplace violence prevention policy should always clearly define specifically who the policy covers. It should include all employees, contractors, and/or students depending on the structure and purpose of your organization.
I recommend a zero-tolerance policy that sets the expectation for all to understand that every incident of workplace violence or threat of workplace violence will be taken seriously and investigated but will not necessarily be treated the same.
A well-written policy should always include where and how to report threats and incidents of workplace violence. It should also include direction for what supervisors or HR should do with the information that has been reported to them. The policy should also clearly explain how the policy will be enforced.
Once you have a solid policy created and approved by all of the appropriate stakeholders, you will need to establish a way for employees and managers to escalate incidents and threats.
In other words, a student on campus gets threatened by another student. What means do you have for the victim to report this incident? If a reporting structure is not already in place for your organization, you will need to create one aligned against the expectations in your new policy.
There should be multiple means to report incidents or threats. Those means should be widely communicated to employees at all levels. Employees should be able to talk to their supervisors but for whatever reason, if they do not believe they can, there should be a hotline to call or another appropriate reporting mechanism.
An independent body within your organization, such as Security or Human Resources should be charged with the responsibility to follow-up and collect these reports as well.
As you design this process, you should be asking yourself the following question: “If an incident occurred or if a threat was made, how is this information getting funneled to the appropriate people?
Does everyone know and understand how to do that?”
Take a Team Approach
Threats of workplace violence are often complicated situations with many moving parts. In my experience, even seemingly simple situations can escalate quickly and are often underestimated. Ideally there should never be just one person responsible for making decisions and thinking through appropriate courses of action on their own.
I always recommend a team approach with evaluating threats and making plans to mitigate or manage an incident. This approach should be multi-disciplinary and should include experts such as human resources, internal or external counsel, trained workplace violence prevention experts, security professionals, and outside experts where appropriate.
With serious cases or unique situations, utilizing certain outside experts may be a prudent course of action. Experts such as an operational psychologist, a suicide prevention expert, or a domestic violence expert can bring much needed expertise and experience to a situation.
No one situation is like any other, so having a multi-disciplinary team will provide a holistic approach, including multiple unique perspectives as your team develops your plan of action
This approach can also reduce the liability for your organization by ensuring that steps are taken to protect your team, your organization’s reputation, and others by preventing violent events from occurring.
Take advantage of our expertise and experience at Bryghtpath
Bryghtpath has developed the workplace violence programs, threat management teams, and crisis plans for many Fortune 500 organizations. Our firm has more than a century of experience in developing actionable plans to help prepare organizations for the unexpected. Our expertise include crisis communications and emergency procedures, and we’d love to help empower your management to handle challenging workplace violence situations safely.
Contact us today at +1.612.235.6435 or via our contact page.