Some not so random thoughts post-Parkland FL

Feb 15, 2018 1:22:17 PM

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.

It is true that there really isn’t a “profile” of who mabecome violent. Nor does every situation unfold in the same manner.

But over the years we’ve handled many situations where the employee has been motivated to act out violently in response to their frustrations, rejections, and vendettas. We’ve seen individuals who feel as though they have been ‘victimized’ and whose behaviors escalate over time. The pattern can feel all too familiar.

This is tough stuff. One of our team has said that we obsess about this topic in a way most business people don’t.

So, I hope you’ll forgive me for seizing this opportunity to remind you of a few things.

  • Early intervention is so important. Don’t minimize threatening actions or problematic behaviors, and then hope everything will settle down or fade away. Take threats seriously and investigate promptly.
  • It’s important to be prepared. Has your workforce been trained to recognize threats and to report? (See something; Say something; Do something!) Have you identified necessary resources? (Security, EAP,threat assessment experts, local law enforcement)
  • Have a plan in place. (How will you investigate a violent threat? How will you handle a potentially volatile termination? How will you manage a credible threat post-termination?)
  • Ask for help if you need it.

It’s not possible to share all that’s needed to prevent workplace violence in a single article, or even in a series of articles! But the goal here is to encourage you to get started. Now.

Here is a link to a resource from SHRM and ASIS that provides an overview of policies, processes, and protocols that organizations can use to help identify and prevent workplace violence. American National Standard on Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention


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