Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D.


Recent Posts

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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Managing "Aggressive" Employee Behaviors

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Nov 28, 2017 3:14:09 PM

Blog #3 of the series: Managing 4 Difficult Workplace Behaviors

What are Aggressive Behaviors?

Aggressive behaviors generally violate some kind of organizational policy. These behaviors include sexual and physical harassment, threats, intimidation, vandalism, theft, and verbal assaults. They also include threats, stalking and harassment delivered via electronic and social media. These behaviors are disturbing, can negatively impact the mental or emotional well-being of employees, and they can damage the culture of the workplace.

Topics: WPV
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Managing “Disruptive” Employee Behaviors

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Nov 7, 2017 10:43:53 AM

Blog #2 of the series: Managing 4 Difficult Workplace Behaviors 

What are “Disruptive” Workplace Behaviors?

Disruptive workplace behaviors include (but are not limited to) attendance and performance issues, highly emotional and chaotic behaviors, heated outbursts, gross insubordination, lack of accountability for one’s inappropriate behavior, and lower level workplace bullying. When Disruptive behaviors are allowed to continue for any length of time in the work environment, the potential exists for co-workers, supervisors and even executives to feel “held hostage” by the individual and his/her problematic behavior.

How do “Disruptive” Behaviors affect the workplace?

Topics: WPV
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Preventing Workplace Violence: Getting Started

By Suzanne Hoffman, Ph.D. on Oct 2, 2017 3:36:31 PM

The question of how to prepare an organization to prevent a potential act of workplace violence can be overwhelming for any HR or security professional and the knowing where to begin can certainly be daunting. As a starting point, we often recommend that our clients obtain a copy of the American National Standard, Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention, co-published by the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The American National Standard emphasizes the role of prevention in creating and maintaining a safe workplace and specifically looks at the role of policy, procedures, resources and safety protocols as being integral to preventing and responding to a workplace violence event. In fact, the American National Standard is considered the “gold standard” in terms of defining both the problem and scope of workplace violence, as well as outlining practical steps that organizations can take to address threats of violence and violent acts in the workplace. This publication is available from ASIS 

Topics: WPV
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