Managing the Workplace: Violence Prevention Tips

Workplace violence is defined as any threat or act of physical violence, intimidation, harassment, or other disruptive threatening behavior that occurs in the workplace. Violence can range from threats to verbal abuse, to physical violence and worse. Workplace violence can involve and affect not only employees but clients, visitors, and customers. It is important for companies to have policies in place to help prevent workplace violence and resolve conflicts within an organization. Measures should be taken before any workplace violence occurs to ensure the safety of employees and others.

Create a Harassment Policy

Companies should create a prevention policy that promotes harassment prevention and also sets out clear policies for reparation. Procedures should be put in place to deal with complaints, preventing recurrence of issues, and to ensure that the person making the complaint feels safe from any type of retaliation. Information on harassment policies should be distributed and promoted so that employees all know the policies.

Establish Codes of Conduct

There should be clear codes of conduct for employees such as zero tolerance for workplace violence and harassment. All employees should be made aware of a company's code of conduct and steps should be taken to eliminate any behavior that violates the code.

Keep Conflicts from Escalating

Not everyone is going to always get along but it is important that conflicts do not escalate and turn into acts of violence or harassment. Conflicts should be dealt with quickly so they are not allowed to fester and get worse.

Conduct Training and Awareness Sessions

Business owners and managers should take the time to organize training and awareness sessions on issues such as workplace violence and harassment. Having training and awareness can help employees identify issues they may need to change and also provide an outlet for communication. Training and awareness is a necessary part of talent management for companies so they are clear on policies.

Have Effective Communication Lines

Employees should be able to effectively communicate any workplace issues so that they can be dealt with. Oftentimes, aggressors thrive on their victim's silence and having effective lines of communication can make it easier for the victim to report the problem. Communication should be promoted as it can help to clarify misunderstandings and defuse tensions, thus lowering the risk of workplace violence.

When a company has proper procedures in place to deal with issues in the workplace, it can decrease the chances of workplace violence but issues can still arise. Victims of workplace violence should stay calm and try not to provoke their aggressor. The victim should also be firm in their responses but should not raise their voices as this will only escalate the situation. It is also important for victims of harassment to avoid physical contact to prevent putting themselves at risk of injury. Victims should document workplace violence carefully so that it can be reported and dealt with accordingly. Complaints will often lead to an investigation and then consequences if the aggressor is found to be guilty.

While it may not be possible to predict when someone might snap, there are many steps that can be taken to facilitate communication and prevent workplace violence. Employees, managers, and owners alike should feel safe at work and with measures in place, the chances of workplace violence can be decreased.

Workplace Violence and Harassment Resources