In September 2018, the U.S. witnessed three workplace shootings within a span of 24 hours. While such extreme cases of workplace violence grab the spotlight, there are many other incidents that go unreported. In fact, around 2 million people in the U.S. claim to have been victims of workplace violence each year.
Workplace violence is becoming increasingly common across the world. It includes, but is not limited to incidents such as verbal abuse, sexual harassment, theft, arson, and homicide. Such undesirable incidents often lead to reduced productivity and increased churn rate. In addition, they create a sense of disconcertment in your workforce.
Therefore, it is crucial to adopt preventive measures in order to avoid such incidents. The first step is to identify potentially violent employees and take necessary actions to curtail them. This, however, isn’t easy because violent tendencies are usually an extreme manifestation of a person’s personal problems. It is often difficult to spot such behavior in its early stages.
Here are six ways using which you can identify a potentially violent employee.
1. Monitor Employee Performance and Behavior
Do you notice a sudden drop in the performance of an efficient employee? It is likely that they are going through some kind of trauma or discomfort that is hampering their productivity. Such an employee might take out their frustration on their coworkers and disturb the work environment. Therefore, it is crucial for you to keep a close eye on the performance of your employees.
Likewise, watch out for any drastic changes in an employee’s work habits. If a punctual and polite employee suddenly starts coming late and exhibits rude behavior, it is a cause of concern. Changing work patterns and behavior could stem from personal/emotional trauma or lack of job satisfaction.
Such issues should be immediately addressed by the management. Employees should be counseled in order to find the root cause of their changing behavior and attitude. You should also interact with employees on a regular basis to keep them motivated. A mass notification system helps you stay connected with your employees, even in case of an emergency or crisis.
2. Carry Out Periodic Background Checks
Companies often vet new recruits to ensure that they will not have any kind of negative impact in the workplace. For instance, employees who have been laid off recently may be prone to violent outbursts and anger issues. Likewise, you should perform background checks on existing employees in order to understand how they are placed at present.
Look out for any signs that indicate an unhealthy lifestyle including drug abuse and alcohol addiction. In addition, you should also find out if they have a history of violent and abusive behavior. You should also be wary of any employee who is fascinated by weapons and maybe, even likes to collect them.
3. Track Employee Onboarding
It is normal for a new recruit to require guidance before they get the hang of their job. However, if a person requires constant supervision long after they have been recruited, it often indicates a violent employee. Such employees are often aggressive and loud and make their coworkers feel uncomfortable.
Therefore, it is important for companies to monitor how an employee is adjusting to their new job. Keep a close tab on those who are involved in frequent altercations with their peers and/or seniors. You can take feedback from their colleagues to understand if there is any cause of alarm.
4. Watch Out For Paranoid Behavior
Gossip, bullying, and pranks have unfortunately become quite common in modern workplaces. Employees on the receiving end of this may even complain against their coworkers. However, an employee who has a tendency to sue their colleagues, or even neighbors, for minor issues may be potentially violent.
Such employees also exhibit other signs of paranoia such as accusing their coworkers of tapping their phones or poisoning their food. It is crucial to look out for these hints and identify violent employees before they get out of hand. Providing counseling or therapy for these employees might help in some cases.
5. Identify Anger Issues
It is one thing to lose your cool at work once in a blue moon. However, it is not a good sign if someone is constantly seething with anger at their workplace. In addition, some may show support for violent incidents such as suicide bombings and mass shootings. These are all indicators of potentially violent behavior.
You can take the help of a counselor to identify the root cause of an employee’s anger. If there are signs of any potential mental illnesses, advise them to take some time off and get proper treatment. It is crucial to deal with such employees in a sensitive manner so as not to make them feel victimized.
6. Educate Your Workforce
Workplace violence can be successfully curbed only when your entire workforce is trained to spot signs of potentially violent behavior. Employees spend most of their office time with their coworkers. It is these coworkers who can help you identify their violent behavior in the initial stages.
Therefore, it is recommended to have an awareness program in place that educates your employees about the warning signs. The idea is not to instigate your employees against each other. Your goal should be to encourage them to report any odd behavior showcased by their coworkers. This helps you nip the problem in the bud, long before a violent employee is able to cause any mishap.
The peril of workplace violence is extremely difficult to control. This is primarily because there is minimal awareness of the signs of violent behavior. It is crucial to understand that a potentially violent employee may not exhibit obvious hints. Therefore, you should monitor their behavior and watch out for subtle indicators.
It is also crucial to create awareness among your employees and equip them to spot such tendencies. In addition, employees who demonstrate such tendencies should be provided with proper counseling and rehabilitation. The key is to aim for a healthy work environment that makes your employees feel comfortable and safe.
Do you have any other tips to identify violent tendencies at workplaces? Share your views in the comments section below.