When Matters Get Out of Hand: 8 Factors That Are Correlated with an Increased Risk of Workplace Violence

Workplace violence can appear under many guises. It could be anything from an altercation between two employees that turns physical, to a full-blown active shooter scenario. Nearly 2 million Americans are affected by workplace violence each year. Business owners and managers often see these incidents as something outside their control, but that is not always the case.

Businesses can take steps to prevent the emergence of factors that can cause violent incidents. This article explores ways to mitigate the damage and loss of life in the event of an active shooter scenario. However, more generally, there are ways to prevent violent situations of any kind breaking out in the workplace. Here are seven factors that increase the likelihood of violence in the workplace. To make your workplace a safe place, these factors must be controlled and eliminated where possible.

A Lack of Pre-Employment Screening

The first line of defence against violence in the workplace should be the hiring process. All potential employees should be subject to a background check to ensure they don’t have a violent past. Hiring employees with a history of violence drastically increases the chances of violent incidents occurring in the workplace.

A Distressed Working Environment

The workplace becomes tenser when the working environment is strained. This can occur when budget cuts occur, there is a pay freeze in place, company rules and policy are not enforced equally across all employees, or certain marginalized groups of employees feel disenfranchised.

Overworked Employees

Every employee is trying to walk a tightrope in balancing the stresses of their personal life with their job stresses. If an employee is battling something at home, the combination with working long hours can be too much to handle. It can often manifest itself as an employee lashing out at those around him or her.

A Lack of Communication Channels

Employees most often resort to violence when they feel they have exhausted all other options and cannot get their grievance understood in any other way. There should be effective communication channels where employees can voice their concerns and management listen and respond to these concerns. Without this, an employee can feel backed into a corner without any options for legitimate complaint.

Little Interest in Health and Safety

Employees are less likely to become violent if they feel the company and their superiors care about them as individuals and have their best interests at heart. Employers can show workers that they care about their health and wellbeing by implementing a rigorous health and safety protocol.

A Laissez-Faire Attitude to Workplace Bullying

There should be no place for bullying in the workplace. A zero-tolerance approach to bullying will help prevent it and offer support to victims when it occurs.

No Incident Reporting System

Employees should have a system where they can report any signs of violence among their peers. If an employee, for example, is making threats against another worker, those around him can bring the issue to the attention of management, who can intervene and prevent the situation escalating to violence.

Without a reporting system, there is no opportunity for workers to report situations before they become violent.

Limited Training

Company leaders and managers should receive training on how to diffuse workplace conflict and anger. These training will equip them with the tools to identify potential triggers and situations where violence could occur. It will then teach them how to mitigate risks and handle the situation without further angering one party.

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