Work Place Violence Prevention Program
“If I ever got the chance I’d kill my boss before he knew what hit him.” Do you have a plan and policy that allows you to address this statement from an employee who receives a poor performance appraisal? The recent active attacker tragedies at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the Mandalay Bay outdoor concert venue in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL, all had at least one commonality: Each of those sites was somebody’s workplace. Does your bank have a program to recognize, report, and respond to the risk of workplace violence (WPV), and a strategy that views every employee as a part of the solution to this increased risk? The safety of your employees should be your highest priority. The startling statistics of WPV serve as a catalyst for business leaders to commit to building a program before their risk becomes a reality.
The Data Behind the Risk:
- Nearly 2 million US workers are victims of workplace violence (WPV) each year
- Murder is the #2 cause of workplace death for women
- Domestic disputes that spill into the workplace are the major root cause of WPV
- 30,000 sexual assaults per year happen at work
- WPV lawsuits cost companies an average of $500,000 per out-of-court settlement
- Workplace assaults cause over $120 billion in annual losses
Experts Recognize Four Types of Violence at Work:
Type 1: Criminal with no connection to the business enters to commit robbery or other crimes (banks were robbed over 4,000 times in 2016)
Type 2: Violence directed at employees by customer or others to whom the business provides service
Type 3: Violence against a co-worker by a present or former employee
Type 4: Violence by someone who doesn’t work there but has a personal relationship with an employee
The most common category of WPV is Type 4. While banks are anomalies because they are targeted for robbery (Type 1), bank leaders who ignore the reality of the other three types do so at their own peril.
Defining Workplace Violence
A commitment to reduce the risk to your bank, its employees and its reputation, begins with defining WPV for your business. Experience and legal precedent favor a broad definition that includes any conduct on company premises or while conducting business anywhere when such conduct is intended to cause physical harm to a person, or property. Conduct, both physical and verbal, intended to negatively impact the safety or security of your bank should be included. A broad definition allows your Legal and Human Resource units to address problem behavior early and swiftly supported by written policy. Further, an inclusive policy sends a strong message to all that the bank will not tolerate fear in the workplace.
Your bank’s WPV policy should include threatening behavior. Again, this facilitates the quick administrative resolution of unacceptable conduct with the potential of rapid escalation to violence. Communications or actions intended to arouse fear, hostility or intimidation, or the apprehension of harm in your employee or any bank “protected person”, their family, friends or co-workers, clients, or property need to be within the scope of WPV at your bank. This covers conduct such as an employee “keying” the car of a co-worker in a parking lot, a disgruntled teller stating that she knows where her manager lives and “might have to pay him a visit”, or a loan officer suggesting to an angry customer that they settle their dispute “outside, one on one.”
A WPV policy that includes threats, by definition, includes the upward trend in stalking, both the physical and the cyber varieties. Recent data shows that as many as three out of five new relationships begin online, so it stands to reason that those who meet online may also break up, fight, and threaten each other online. Since we know that domestic disputes are a major root cause of WPV, develop a strategy that encourages employees to share restraining or protective orders with HR, management or security. Too often, corporate culture views such matters as entirely personal, but when potential violence is concerned, you may be held liable for failing to secure your workplace.
Workplace Violence Training
Now that you’ve defined WPV and threats it’s important to articulate who is a “protected person” under your policy. Again, broad inclusive language lets it be known that you have zero tolerance for anyone to feel threatened while under your care, and, it facilitates rapid handling of a potentially violent scenario. Employees, visitors, customers, vendors, and contractors should all feel safe while interacting with your bank whether they are working or dealing with you on or off-site. For example, a client who calls in for customer service and is threatened by one of your employees while on the call should be treated as a protected person.
To engage all employees as stewards of your business who are equally responsible for safety and security, teach them the “Three R’s” of WPV: Recognize, Report, and React. Everyone should learn to recognize the early warning signs of violence. Reporting concerns should be easy, even anonymous, and facilitated through multiple reporting options. The ball is in your court once you receive the report and you must have a process to act credibly, professionally, and swiftly. Reacting to an actual violent incident should be trained through informal sessions where short videos such as the Department of Homeland Security “Run, Hide, Fight” concept is portrayed. In the next installment of this article, we’ll further explore the “The Three R’s” in depth. Remember, after every incident, a co-worker or manager says they knew something was wrong and they wish they had acted; Don’t you be that person.