No company is immune to workplace violence so every company should prepare for it and, clearly, prevention of workplace violence training is essential. Four essential components that training should cover:
• Your workplace violence policy
Prevention of workplace violence training should cover the content of the company’s policy and where the employees can find the policy. Most companies have “zero tolerance” toward threats, violence, bullying and harassment. It’s worth having a separate policy on workplace violence rather than rolling language into your harassment and discrimination policy. Specify behaviors prohibited in the workplace and specify employees’ obligation to report situations of actual or suspected instances of workplace violence.
• Warning signs
Your employees need to understand what behaviors may lead to violent conflicts:
- Direct or implied verbal threats expressed by an employee about coworkers, management, customers, or family members
- Expression of extreme fascination with weapons
- Paranoid or other unusual behavior
- Extreme adverse reaction to coaching, discipline, or constructive criticism
- Manifestation of extreme depression, delusional behavior, and/or suicidal inclination
- History of violent behavior
- Romantic or other obsession with or stalking of an employee by a co-worker, spouse or other non-employee
- Too often employees observe one or more of the above, but dismiss it as weird behavior.
• Reporting suspicious behavior
Your employees need to know what to do when they witness suspicious behaviors. Your company should have a detailed plan that directs employees where to report. This is communicated via the prevention of workplace violence training.
• Employees must know you have a plan
All employees should receive prevention of workplace violence training and the training should assure them that your company has a detailed plan in place to prevent and respond to incidents of workplace violence. Most employees taking the training are not going to be part of that plan but they need to know it exists.