More on violence in the workplace . . .

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

In a previous post I mentioned incivility and a growing concern for violence in the workplace. An now there is the horrid news of the plight of Anne Lee who was allegedly murdered by a co-worker at a Yale University Laboratory.

While homicides in the workplace are not common, violence in the workplace is on the rise. According to Quinnipiac psychology professor Carrie Bulger, “There are about 17 homicides per week in the United States at work and only 8 percent of them are worker on worker.”

Recently, I was asked by a client what I thought the correct process might be to effect a significant reduction in force at their company. Sadly, I felt then, and still feel now, that the safety of all those concerned dictates that there be armed authorities on premises when the actual notification takes place. They accepted that suggestion and there were three security persons visible during the process. One obviously armed person in the lobby, one “plain clothes officer” in with the President and HR administrator, and one “plain clothes officer” to accompany the employees when gathering their personal belongings.

I’m pleased to report that all went well and there have been no repercussions since the reduction in force. So far, so good. The remaining employees feel as though management truly cares about their safety and appreciate it very much.

It’s not only during reductions in force that we need to be concerned about violence in the workplace. Bulger said that workplace homicides or instances of violence are more likely to happen in industries like retail but said that stress in any work environment can play a major factor. And which workplace do you know today that isn’t under stress?

What precautions do you take to detect and mitigate violence in the workplace? Do you allow “angry e-mails,” “verbal abuse,” or “physical intimidation” to go unchecked in your company? Are you quick, consistent and very clear on the message that incivility is not acceptable in your company?