Tragic Lessons Learned: Best Practices to Prevent Workplace Violence
Mario Pecoraro, CEO from Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, Inc. and Peter Roueche from Eastman Chemical Company spoke at the RIMS 2017 Annual Conference about workplace violence and patterns of behavior a worker might exhibit before a tragedy happens.
Warning signs of people at risk include: typical behaviors, trends and profiles of aggressors, and mitigation factors leading to a breakdown with preventative measures.
Behaviors can either be obvious ones or not so obvious. The obvious behaviors include unexplained behavior, absenteeism, repeated violation of company policies, emotionally charged, and depression. The other behaviors that might not seem so obvious are problems at home, financial challenges, suicidal, paranoid behaviors, and generally unhappy outside of work.
Trends and profiling aggressors include:
- “Typical” or average age is under 40
- Lacks social skills – no eye to eye contact
- Victim of teasing – constantly picked on
- Does not take criticism well
- Blames others – never takes ownership
- Threatens – “get even with others”
- Emotional outbursts – emotionally charged
- Conflicts with coworkers
- Paranoid – someone is out to get them
Companies can try to mitigate risk of workplace violence by conducting background checks. During pre-hire, the company should conduct a background investigation, not just a background check. The word check means something mundane or quick. When hiring a potential employee, you should take the time to look into the employee a little longer than just checking a box on a list of tasks before hiring the person. A company can talk with prior employers to get a better picture of the potential employee.
Homeland Security developed a Best Practices “Active Shooter” process that includes an evacuation process, a hide-out process, taking action against the shooter process, law enforcement process/arrival, training staff including an emergency action plan, and training exercises. Some additional recommendations include preparedness and prevention.
Solutions for pre-employment include assessing current investigation process to ensure best practices are allowed, look at methods that include search types such as county vs. state vs. national, avoid the cheap and fast searches, utilize a firm that is compliant, and compare the budget to the true cost of a bad hire. Solutions for post employment include every six months or annually have a background investigation, have the risk mitigation mindset this includes social media monitoring and employee issues/concerns should be documented and addressed and not swept under the carpet.
Corporate culture solutions include creating a culture and respectful environment. Some of the questions you might ask yourself include:
- Does your company have Core Values that are followed?
- Is it ok to be disrespectful, negative or violent?
- What does your firm represent and allow?
- What training/mentorship exists to ensure that culture breaches do not occur?
- Do you lead by example?
In summary, your company needs to be proactive. A company should assess their current process, make recommendations from a risk perspective, not a financial one. It is important to assess the true cost of a bad hire and implications it has on the operations of the company. Train your employees to be more proactive with risk, it is everyone’s problem and affects everyone.