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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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
In the Wake of Another Mass Shooting: Is Your Workforce Prepared?
Whenever news about the latest workplace or school shooting breaks, as it did yesterday, my first thoughts are probably like yours – something along the lines of “Oh no, how awful,” or, “Not again!”
Then, as more and more details about the shooter and the situation are revealed, my thoughts often turn to “this sounds all too familiar.” While we are still learning about the details of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, I feel compelled to share some thoughts on threat assessment and violence prevention.
In my almost 20 years in the workplace violence prevention field, I have worked side by side with a team of expert threat assessment professionals. I’ve watched them safely shepherd our clients through some pretty scary situations, and I’ve been in the room when they have raised awareness through practical training about preventing workplace violence.
Blog #4 of the series: Managing 4 Difficult Workplace Behaviors
What are Dangerous Behaviors?
Dangerous Behaviors in the workplace are the most severe and concerning of the behaviors described in this series. These behaviors are very frightening, and while occurring less frequently than annoying, disruptive or aggressive behaviors, they can nonetheless turn a “regular” workplace into a both unsafe and terrifying environment.
When we talk about dangerous workplace behaviors, we often see the following:
Making the Case for a Workplace Violence Prevention Program
Many HR Directors and Security professionals are asked by their CEO’s “Why do we a need a workplace violence prevention program? How do we justify the cost of policy development, training and security improvements? Besides, nothing will happen here.”
It’s not surprising that the cost of implementing these types of programs would raise questions, especially in light of the idea that you are preparing for an event that may never happen, such as an active shooter.
In reality, most workplaces can expect to be affected at some point by lower level acts of workplace violence like bullying, fistfights, sabotage or threatening behaviors; and while these are seemingly less severe than an active shooter event, there are nonetheless serious financials risks that the organization could face in the aftermath.