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Handling Potential Workplace Violence Threats

Picture your assistant rushing frantically to your office to notify you that a disgruntled employee has just threatened to assault another staff member. What would your next steps be? How would you diffuse the situation to ensure that it doesn’t escalate? These are life-changing decisions that, depending on how they’re carried out, could either protect or jeopardize the safety and well being of your workers.  Violence in the workplace is a legitimate concern for any employer, which is why we’ve put together a list of five effective tips on how to handle potential workplace violence threats.

Tip 1: Have a Prepared Emergency Plan:

In an earlier blog, we covered tips for implementing violence prevention in the workplace. We’re bringing it up again because prevention can, ultimately, shape how you handle a violent threat once it has occurred. That being said, you want to ensure that you have designed an effective plan for dealing with potential workplace violence threats.

You might be unsure as to what you should include in your emergency plan, and how each employee will play a role in the process. After all, these are legitimate uncertainties that many business owners share. If this is the case, Huffmaster can help. We specialize in helping businesses determine which plan of action will work best in their company’s ability to prevent and respond to workplace violence.

Once a plan is set in place, your employees will be less confused and more confident in knowing exactly what steps they should take if a threat does occur. Make sure that your employees don’t become sailors without proper navigation, leaving them unsure, insecure and vulnerable. Implement order in the open waters of your workplace, so that chaos doesn’t ensue in the face of unpredictable situations.

Tip 2: Evaluate the Threat: 

Every threat should be taken seriously. But, evaluating a threat can, in the long run, help you determine how it should be handled best. Don’t jump to conclusions until you fully understand the dynamics of what is occurring in your surroundings. Analyzing the threat at hand will help you diffuse it more logically and strategically.  Ask yourself key questions, like, “Is this threat oriented towards one particular individual or the entire workplace?” Or, “Are there possible reasons for why this threat is occurring?” Evaluating what it is you’re dealing with will help you get to the root of its solution much quicker.

Tip 3: Don’t Hesitate to Seek Back-Up:

Even if you’re familiar with the person who is threatening you and your employees, do not hesitate to utilize your security staff. In certain situations, workplace violence can escalate in a quick, spontaneous manner. And, while you and your staff members may have effectively completed necessary or required workplace violence training, highly equipped security staffers can still prove to be a stable support system for ensuring that everyone in the workplace is safe. Don’t underestimate how crucial a quality security team member can be when violence threats arise in the workplace. If you don’t have a current security team, Huffmaster’s protective services may be able to help. We harbor years of experience in training and placing skilled security professionals within businesses.

Tip 4: Alert Law Enforcement:

If a threat could seriously put you and your workers in eminent harm, make sure that you report it with your local law enforcement officers. Making them aware of the situation will help you create a path of communication for dealing with potential threats or issues in the future. Doing this will also put you – and your company – on their radar, making it easier for them to know what to expect if they are, in fact, called in to directly address the situation.

Tip 5: Know How to Approach the Media After a Threat has Occurred:

It is very normal for a journalist to inquire about a particular threat that occurred within – or at – your workplace. Make sure that you are prepared to answer questions regarding the situation, and also assess what facts or factors you would like to keep internal – if, for example, they affect a potential investigation. Releasing a formal statement can also prove to be an effective, convenient way of addressing the media after a threat has occurred. This will give reporters a uniform understanding of what transpired during and after the period of time that the threat occurred.

Embedding a policy that addresses how employees are to respond to media inquiries following a workplace violence threat can prove to be useful, as well. With information easily becoming “viral,” communicating post-threat procedure with employees can help ensure that possibly sensitive information does not cause further violent behavior.

Potential workplace violence threats not only can be diffused, but many can also be prevented. Workplace violence is an issue that affects business owners of all trades. So, whether you’re interested in creating a comprehensive workplace safety plan or training program, or you’re interested in learning more about threat management, contact Huffmaster today to get more information.

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Mike Saad, CPP

Senior Director Consulting Services at Huffmaster Crisis Response, LLC
Michael Saad is Senior Director of Consulting Services, Huffmaster Crisis Response, LLC. He is responsible for the security consulting line of business for the company. In that capacity he manages security program evaluation, corporate policy and procedure development, federal security compliance initiatives, corporate investigations, security threat and vulnerability analysis, and business risk management.
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