Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D.


Recent Posts

7 Tips for a Return-to-Work Initiative

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on May 31, 2021 7:15:00 PM

Transitioning to the Post-Pandemic Workplace

In March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, many organizations faced tough choices about the sudden transition to remote work for some or all of their workforce. There were also accompanying challenges of new technology, remote meetings, the need to provide ongoing employee tech and emotional support and the challenge of meeting business objectives within an entirely new paradigm.

Now in early Summer 2021, as the U.S. continues to treat COVID-19 cases, and as vaccinations are ramping up across the country, businesses are facing new decisions about how, when, and even if, employees should return to the workplace.

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Normal Reactions to an Abnormal Situation: Managing Life at Home and Work During Covid-19

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Dec 11, 2020 11:56:32 AM

After months of working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, it might be a good time to pause and assess -- where are we? Not only with our physical and emotional well-being, but also, for many, with the transition to working primarily from our homes. We are all concerned about meeting the demands of our jobs and balancing the needs of our families, while grappling with creating and maintaining the habits that will help us achieve both of these things.

Many of us struggle with the feeling we are not managing our jobs and our family relationships and responsibilities as well as we used to, and that even the simplest tasks can feel exhausting. It can be helpful to give context to what we all are experiencing in terms of “threat response” - which is our own biological wiring that helps protect us during a perceived crisis or threat.

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Working Safely with High Risk Populations- Part 3

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Nov 26, 2019 10:17:30 AM

We are back with the third post in our blog series: De-Escalation, Active Listening, Personal Safety and Working Safely in High Risk Environments and with High Risk Populations: A Conversation with Wayne Spees, WGI Executive Consultant. In this final portion of the interview, we talk with Wayne about working with so-called “high risk” populations and the special safety concerns that this may entail.

Blog #3 of 3: Working with High Risk Populations

1. In your experience, what are “high risk populations?”

High risk populations are any group of people or location where acts of violence are not uncommon. If I told you there was a fist fight in a bar for example, you may not find that surprising. The same fist fight occurring in a Sunday church service though would be highly unusual. You could then say a bar is a higher risk environment and its patrons were a higher risk population for violence. Of course, there are many other contributing factors as to

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Working Safely with High Risk Populations - Part 2

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Sep 17, 2019 2:28:06 PM

A Conversation with Wayne Spees, WGI Executive Consultant

We are continuing with Part 2 of our blog series, Working with High Risk Populations: A Conversation with Wayne Spees, WGI Executive Consultant. To recap, this series was influenced by employers who need training for their employees who work with potentially angry, aggressive and difficult individuals within the scope of their jobs. In this portion of the interview, Wayne gives his insight and expertise about how to prepare for a potentially violent incident, such as an active shooter event, and what type of training he recommends for the workplace.

Blog #2 of 3: Active Shooter Events and Personal Safety

  1. While still statistically rare, active shooter events have been on the rise, and are now a cause for concern among many people. What thoughts do you have about being prepared for any type of violent event that may occur in public, at work or in a school environment?

For the average person, being involved in a violent event would be terrifying. Most people would rather not think about it. As a result, when something like this happens, people tend to go into denial. 

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Working Safely with High Risk Populations

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Jun 11, 2019 8:49:07 AM

A Conversation with Wayne Spees, WGI Executive Consultant

At WGI, we have noticed a spike in the number of requests for training for active listening skills, de-escalation techniques, active shooter response and specialized safety skills training for those working with “high risk” populations. It’s apparent that many employers are recognizing the importance of providing training for their employees who work with angry, aggressive and difficult individuals that they may encounter within the scope of their jobs, with an eye on safety and potentially decreasing the likelihood of an emotionally charged interaction escalating to violence. 

Topics: De-escalation
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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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"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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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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Managing "Dangerous" Behaviors

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Jan 17, 2018 4:34:03 PM

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:

Topics: WPV
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How to Sell the C-Suite on Workplace Violence Prevention: Influencing Your Execs

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Dec 15, 2017 4:55:42 PM

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.

 

Topics: WPV
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