It’s a story told all too often–a disgruntled employee with access to weapons lashes out at coworkers in a violent rampage. Usually, the perpetrator has specific targets in mind, but innocent bystanders are frequently injured or killed, as well. As an employer, it’s easy to feel helpless in situations like this.
Fortunately, there are some steps your company can take to prevent workplace violence. It isn’t always possible to ensure these tragedies are avoided, but knowing you have done all you could is comforting. From background checks to open dialogue with employees, staying alert and aware is one of the most important aspects to being prepared for the worst, just in case.
- Conduct background investigations, each and every time.
While this might seem obvious, all too often, companies don’t do their due diligence prior to onboarding new employees. A thorough background investigation can help bring to light issues like past criminal convictions, a history of financial instability, attitude problems in past positions, or false assertions on an employment application. Any of these problems should raise red flags for employers, as they can point to signs of larger issues.
It’s also advisable to conduct background checks periodically on employees that are already on the books. You might not know about criminal convictions or traffic violations if they occurred after an employee was already brought on board. There’s nothing wrong with checking in after a year or two of employment. Just be sure to follow the regulations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Understand your employees on a deeper level.
It may not be enough to just get to know your staff in the office. It’s important to also ask questions of them related to their personal lives to get a better sense for what they do when they aren’t at work. Part of this can be achieved through simple conversation during the work day. You may also wish to arrange after-work events from time to time to build camaraderie and develop a deeper understanding of who your people really are.
That being said, as you get to know your staff, pay attention to anything that seems suspicious. If you are concerned about behaviors or tendencies an employee has, mention it to HR immediately. Together, brainstorm a way to approach the problem.
- Check in online.
An easy way to find out more about what your employees do on their off-hours is to monitor their online presence. This is easy if you permit access to social media at work and also monitor company computers. If not, spend some time every quarter covertly looking over the social media accounts or personal websites of your staff. Not only could this potentially provide information about dangerous employees, it is a good way to see who has a public persona in keeping with your company’s core values.
- Have a plan, should the worst occur.
Before there is a problem of any kind, you need to have a plan in place. There should be a detailed outline of how the company will respond to a variety of security threats. Familiarize the entire management team with this plan.
In addition, share evacuation plans with your staff. They should be prepared for how to react in a variety of workplace violence situations. However, do not overshare the details of the plan. Doing so could make it all too easy for someone wishing to cause harm to do so.
It can’t be overstated enough–you can never be too careful when it comes to safety. Know who you’re hiring and continue to perform regular background investigations. Have plans in place for what to do if things go wrong. By employing many security measures and being proactive, your company will be far better prepared to avoid a workplace violence scenario.
Alliance Risk Group. is a full-service investigative firm that conducts best practice background checks and comprehensive claims investigations in a variety of industries, regardless of your company’s size or geographic location. Are you interested in learning more about ways in which we can help you mitigate risk? Schedule a no-cost webinar to see if our services might be right for you!
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