Why Culture Counts

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Oct 26, 2018 2:33:09 PM

The Importance of Leadership in Preventing Workplace Violence

Workplace violence (WPV) prevention is a challenging and anxiety raising issue for most organizations. Leaders react to this problem in different ways. Leaders:

  • DENY: “It will never happen in our workplace.”
  • GAMBLE: “I can’t justify the expense for something that may not happen
  • TAKE ACTION: This leader tackles the problem head on and acts proactively to create a work environment where grievances and other behavioral issue are not allowed to fester into violence.

Which leader are you? Have you created a culture which emphasizes the importance of a safe, effective and productive work environment?

In our experience, leadership is critically important in creating a culture where prevention efforts thrive and are lasting.

Leadership in this case refers to the ability of an organization’s key leaders to create, model and maintain a safe work environment, while culture represents the personality and character of the work environment – the sum of its values, traditions, behaviors and attitudes. With regard to workplace violence prevention, a safe workplace culture is one that prioritizes and communicates the importance of establishing a threat and violence free setting in which employees can effectively do their jobs. And should threats or violence occur, one that ensures that the organizational response is both prepared and immediately able to assess and mitigate any potentially dangerous situation.

Topics: WPV
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“It’s never fireworks…”

By Wayne R. Spees on Jul 24, 2018 4:41:37 PM

“Pop, Pop, Pop”

Over the course of my law enforcement career I have interviewed hundreds of witnesses and victims of shootings. More often than not, I heard the phrase, “At first, I thought it was fireworks.” Why do you suppose people who are hearing gunfire assume it is fireworks? Well, when we are at work or some other place we presume to be safe, we often interpret our experience via what we want to hear – and what makes the most sense in terms of our context and life experiences. For many people, those experiences don’t regularly include the sound of gunfire. So when we hear a “pop, pop, pop” (or something similar), we default to the assumption that those sounds are fireworks. Fireworks means “no one is shooting”. Fireworks means “I’m not in danger”. Fireworks means “everything will be ok.”

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Why Don't Employees Report Problematic Behaviors in the Workplace?

By Wayne Maxey, CPP, CTM on Jul 23, 2018 7:21:21 AM

In our job as Threat Assessment experts, we frequently go into workplaces where an employee’s behavior has come to the attention of HR or management for being inappropriate, bullying, or downright threatening. And, as a part of the Threat Assessment process, we always inquire about the history of the present concern, and speak with individuals who have been identified as possible witnesses to the behaviors in question. Almost without fail, we also find that the behaviors that are now being investigated have gone on longer than was originally thought, and were witnessed or experienced by individuals, sometimes repeatedly, who never came forward to report the behavior. We’ve even seen this happen in work environments where prevention training has occurred, and policy and reporting expectations for potential workplace violence are made clear to employees. So what gives? 

Topics: WPV
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Threat Assessment Teams: An Invaluable Resource

By Glenn Lipson, Ph.D. on May 8, 2018 5:20:18 PM

At a recent meeting of our local chapter of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP), I was reminded that as threat assessment professionals, we have been utilizing multidisciplinary teams for almost 25 years in San Diego County. Together, law enforcement, mental health professionals and local court systems have worked effectively on a variety of threat cases. The common goal? Identifying and intervening in stalking, workplace violence, and other cases where risk to workplace, school and public safety has been present.   

Topics: WPV
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Workplace Violence and Bullying: Are they that different?

By Catherine Mattice Zundel, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP on Apr 23, 2018 4:37:15 PM

As experts who have traveled extensively to consult and train our clients on workplace violence prevention and bullying, we are often asked “What is the difference between workplace bullying and violence? Where does bullying cross the line?” It’s a great question and one worthy of clarification as we understand and address these types of behaviors in the workplace.

Topics: WPV Bullying
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"See Something, Say Something, Do Something": The Role of the Security Pro

By Wayne Maxey, CPP, CTM on Apr 16, 2018 10:37:31 AM

When an employee is threatened, stalked or assaulted, who is the likely person they will first turn to for protection at the workplace? Usually, it’s the most visible defender of an organization – the security professional. Their role in responding to workplace threats is invaluable, and essential to establishing and maintaining a safe workplace for all employees.

In addition to responding to threats in the workplace, security professionals are also a critical part of the team that works to create safety protocols and procedures that help prevent workplace violence. Working together with HR, executive leadership and other key stakeholders, security professionals provide specialized and expert guidance on issues such as  access control, crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and coordination with local law enforcement.  

But, what if there are even further steps that can enhance the security professional’s role and help broaden their influence with regard to workplace violence prevention? Specifically, what can prepare the security professional (and the organization) to see something, and say something, and do something before something bad happens, and as a result, potentially prevent a violent incident from occurring.

Topics: Security
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"See Something, Say Something, Do Something": A Guide for HR Pros

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Apr 5, 2018 11:50:26 AM

6 Workplace Behaviors to NEVER Ignore

It seems as though the news in the past few years has been full of stories of violent behavior in the workplace, with conduct ranging from harassment and bullying, to shoving, fist fights and stabbings, and in some rare cases, to incidents involving firearms and active shooters. 

The Bureau of Labors Statistics estimates that over 2 million people per year experience some form of violence in the workplace. This begs the question: what can be done to prevent workplace violence incidents, either from occurring or from escalating once the cycle of violent behavior begins?

Topics: WPV
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 Workplace Violence Awareness Month?             Is that a thing??

By Jaimee Pittman on Apr 2, 2018 10:45:03 AM

Did you know that April is designated as Workplace Violence Awareness Month? Or that this is the 6th year that there has been such an observance?

Don’t feel too bad if you were out of the loop on this news.

I suspect the only people who knew this are people like us – that is, people who obsess about workplace violence prevention, and have devoted their careers to helping leaders keep their workplaces safe.

More good news – because we obsess about this topic, you don’t need to! You can count on us to raise your awareness through solid content and helpful tips, and to keep you informed about industry news and best practices.

Topics: WPV
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Making the Case for Bystander Training

By Elizabeth Roche, SPHR, SHRM-SCP on Mar 14, 2018 8:29:49 AM

An Essential Component of Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Recently, workplace sexual harassment prevention training programs have made the case for including “bystander” intervention training. Historically, bystander intervention training has been used in elementary and middle schools to address bullying, and on college campuses and in the military in an effort to prevent sexual assault.

Who are “bystanders”, and what role do they play in harassment prevention?

In the context of the workplace, “bystanders” are defined as individuals who observe harassment of others in the workplace, while “targets” are the individuals who directly experience the harassing behavior. Bystanders can include a range of people, including co-workers, managers or supervisors, human resources and union representatives, and other individuals to whom harassment is reported. Co-workers who are informed of violence and harassment through the workplace grapevine can also become bystanders. 

The behavior may be serious or minor, one-time or repeated, but the bystander recognizes that the behavior is inappropriate, intimidating, offensive, a violation of policy or even physically threatening.

 

Bystander approaches focus on the ways in which individuals who are not the targets of the conduct 

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Wrap Up to the Blog Series: “Managing 4 Difficult Workplace Behaviors”

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Mar 5, 2018 4:10:31 PM

This blog series addressed 4 behaviors (Annoying, Disruptive, Aggressive, and Dangerous) that can be challenging for HR professionals and leaders to manage. The series provided a number of practical suggestions for intervening in a safe and productive manner to prevent escalation.

So, taken together, what does it all mean?

Policy, training, and vetted procedures are critical factors in addressing and reducing these behaviors. In short, prepare, prepare, prepare.

As we have learned, each of the behaviors discussed in this 4 part series requires a response that is consistent with what we are observing from the employee, and that is also in accordance with organizational policies and procedures.

It is also vitally important to identify who within your organization will lead the charge when such behaviors are reported or observed. For instance, annoying and disruptive behaviors might start with intervention at

Topics: WPV
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