Spotting Predictive Signs of Workplace Violence

Every employer struggles with how to address the risk of workplace violence. Staffing firms can feel especially vulnerable because of the limited insights they have into the personalities of a client’s employees. Fortunately, professional solutions are available. Encouraging employees to raise concerns early on is an important step but relying on an employee’s instincts to recognize warning signs might not be enough. Instead, employers can give their employees tools to recognize the signs of potential violence so it can be addressed safely and responsibly.

Stopping an incident before it begins

A core principle of violence prevention training programs is that violent incidents rarely arise spontaneously. The most shocking cases—active shooters—invariably occur only after a string of confrontations, outbursts, and other behaviors. Employees often need help recognizing the common precursors to more serious events. Employers also need to provide a safe reporting mechanism and have a plan in place for addressing reports. Action taken early can save lives and get a troubled employee help before a problem spirals out of control.

In crafting a violence prevention plan, an employer needs to give thought to the sort of behaviors that should be flagged. Setting a threshold too low risks making the program too sensitive and, perhaps counterintuitively, ineffective. On the other hand, a high bar might leave simmering, serious issues unresolved until it is too late.

Violence has many warning signs

These are some of the many potential warning signs an employer may wish to highlight. Note that many of these issues can be rooted in something other than a violent tendency—a hidden substance dependency, relationship problems, stressful life events, and so on. Part of the challenge for employers is knowing how to evaluate the signs and when bringing in outside assistance could be beneficial.

  • Unusual changes in behavior, especially if those behaviors are disruptive to the workplace.
  • Emotional outbursts, including swearing, angry shouting, or crying.
  • Isolation from coworkers, especially in social situations.
  • Hostility toward a direct supervisor.
  • Verbal threats or comments about a desire to hurt someone.
  • Clenched fists or jaws.
  • Disrespectful or unprofessional attitude toward coworkers or customers.
  • Unusual expressions of interest in violence, weapons, or violent incidents in the news.
  • Short tempers.
  • Physically intimidating behavior, like getting too close to a colleague or making angry gestures.
  • Signs of alcohol or drug abuse.

Call Gunnin Insurance for violence prevention resources

At Gunnin Insurance we think every staffing firm should give serious thought to providing their employees with training to help them take an active role in preventing workplace violence. We have engaged The Safer Solution to provide clients with comprehensive, expert training and guidance. We also can help clients explore insurance options to protect their businesses financially in the event of a serious incident. To learn more, give Gunnin a call today.