Early Warning Signs of Workplace Violence

Early Warning Signs of Workplace Violence


Recognising the early signs of workplace violence is an important step in minimising or avoiding the impact. This article looks at early warning signs and some basic steps to take in response.

Sometimes, like in cases of profit-motivated violence, there maybe no clue that violence is imminent. However, few violent acts in the workplace are totally unpredictable, the result of a person who just ‘snapped’.

Most individuals who commit violence give some sort of warning sign. of workplace violence To maintain a safe and productive work environment, you should learn to recognise these warning signs.

The 2003 study by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Inc. found that nearly 20% of the workforce claimed to have experienced an episode of workplace violence, yet the majority of the workforce do not know what the early warning signs of workplace violence were.

Without knowing the early warning signs of workplace violence, violence may not be prevented – if co-workers are not aware of the problem they cannot act or report.

Some early warning signs of Workplace Violence

Some early warning signs of workplace violence are:

  • Serious and escalating conflict with clients or colleagues; Conflicts in romantic relationships;
  • Romantic obsessions; Extreme stress;
  • Bizarre or suicidal thoughts, or other signs of emotional or mental problems;
  • Insulting, discriminatory comments or behaviour directed at specific people;
  • Telling others about violent thoughts or fantasies; Bringing weapons to work.

Predicting problem that may lead to warning signs of workplace violence

Employee education in recognising the key warning signs of workplace violence helps prepare a company to diffuse a potentially violent situation before it occurs.
Knowing what behaviours to look for and how to report them are two powerful means companies have to predict people problems before they happen.

The pain of dealing with workplace conflict

Some key points in dealing with workplace conflict are noted below.

1. Act now, don’t delay

Conflict between people at work does not go away, it gets worse. Few things are more difficult for managers than talking to an employee who is agitated, distressed and complaining about others. The fear you create for yourself is worse than the reality of listening to the employee. Once you sit down and have the conversation, it gets easier. Overcome fear by doing.

2. Ask questions

Conversations with people in conflict are all about how the person feels and are unlikely to be straightforward. Three questions are important to ask:

  • What happened?
  • How were you affected?
  • What would you like to see happen?

3. Prepare

Prepare for a conversation with a disgruntled employee the way you would for an interview with a CEO or Board member. Have your company policies on hand. Know what you want to ask, how you want to say it and how you want to represent yourself and your company. Many organisations have value statements that refer to employees as the strongest asset. A conversation with a conflicted employee is a real test of whether you are able to represent that company value in the conversation.

4. Practice

Most of us are uncomfortable talking to people about their complaints, especially when as a manager, employees are looking to you to solve the problem. Practice your approach, aloud. Role -play with colleagues and friends. Rehearse how you intend to get the conversation started, how you ask questions, when you pause to let the other person continue talking.

5. Learn a few more skills

The most common complaint about managing conflict between people at work is that relatively minor inappropriate behaviours are ignored and are followed by increasingly poor behaviours leading to management reacting too late

Contact ProActive Response today to learn about training for your organization on how to recognize and address the early warning signs of Workplace Violence.

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*article originally published byProActive Resolutions on WorkplaceOHS


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