This last decade has been sparked with many workplace violence incidents and tragedies. As a police officer I've been involved in calls for service of workplace violence in which it's just been a report but I've also responded to the aftermath which usually ends in serious injuries and/or death. I've also been involved in workplace terminations in which hostile behavior was anticipated and an escort off property was necessary. As a close protection agent I've handled workplace violence cases in which a company was just taking precautions. Every employer should feel obligated to keep their employees safe. In fact various laws and regulations require it. When we talk about workplace violence we talk about four categories:
1. Criminal intent or stranger- this is someone that has no ties to the business but their plan is all sinister.
2. Member, employee, worker on worker- This is pretty much sums up exactly what it says. An employee upset over a performance review, a termination, or just another employee.
3. Contractor, customer, client- Someone who is upset over perhaps billing services, not being helped in finding a job, this list can go on and on.
4. Personal relationships- usually some domestic dispute. Spouse or domestic partner show up at the workplace upset over a pending divorce, another relationship, well you get my point.
A person before they commit the act of violence they must reason within themselves to determine if the violence is an acceptable way to establish or reestablish control (Acceptable to them not the victim or society). Aggressors simply don't snap and turn violent. The aggressor will select targets, which could be anyone in the business at the time of violence or in the case of a domestic they will get their victim alone. Then the act of violence occurs. This is considered an emotional escalation or in the case of true crazies non-emotional decision making.
For employers, employees, and security practitioners the best way to prevent workplace violence is early detection of the behavioral, emotional, and psychological indicators. Easier said than done but we usually can detect when someone is off we just excuse it as nothing or that we are being paranoid. Social media has given a lot of insight on a person's motivations and insight prior to an incident. There is a lot to the current day mantra; "see something say something."
Let's consider how workplace violence escalates. It usually starts with a disgruntled person, that source of contention will vary widely. A person may not speak but will give off physical cues or the person communicates their aggravation and sometimes their intent. Occasionally they may stalk their future victim. Behavior and aggressive acts should never be let go without some follow through. Then the person is so aggravated that they resort in the use of a weapon in an "I'll show you moment."
As stated many times in numerous books and articles; "the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior." Even though most assailants statistically are men we can't forget the behavioral indicators of women as well. We have discussed a lot about employees but remember that an attack might not be on a person but a business or what the business represents to that person.
As we go into 2020 let's look out for each other. If someone needs help let's get them help. If the choice is to give someone the opportunity to go to an Employee Assistance Program then I applaud you but continue to monitor their behavior because some incidents in the attackers mind can be held onto for a long time. We call them grudges. We do not want grudges to become deadly. If someone is in an abusive relationship the employer wants to know that because those can turn deadly. If a company knows their worth and that bad people are willing to destroy their business and those that work in it or with it then that should be known as well.
Have a safe and vigilant 2020.