Potentially Violent Employee Identified . . . Now what?
In part 1 of the Employee Violence in the Workplace series, we identified the 10 possible signs an employee might become violent. Then the question is, “what do I do if I suspect that one of my employees might become violent?”
John is Bill’s immediate supervisor. For a couple of weeks now, Bill has shown signs that he might become violent. John is aware of this situation and has decided to “keep an eye on the situation”. About a month later, Bill has an outburst and assaults a co-worker. After the incident, John reports to his supervisor that he was “keeping an eye on the situation”. John and Bill are both fired and the organization now has possible legal action pending against them.
If you suspect that one of your employees might become violent, then action must be taken.
Here are the steps to take if you suspect one of your employees might become violent:
- Document your findings and detail the reason behind your suspicion.
- Notify your immediate supervisor of the situation and your action plan moving forward.
- Have a meeting between you, the suspected employee, and a witness (your supervisor or a manager from another department). During this meeting, talk with the suspected employee about your observations and how they are effecting their performance in the workplace. Show empathy and do a lot more listening than talking. Do not tell the employee that you suspect them of becoming violent, but ensure they understand the changes you have noticed.
- Talk with your supervisor about the meeting with the employee and discuss options. Some options might include a change of position (horizontal) within the organization, a few days of paid time off, etc.
- Have a second meeting between you, the suspected employee, and a witness (your supervisor or a manager from another department). During this meeting, review what was discussed at the previous meeting with the employee and the steps the organization is going to take moving forward.
- Document all actions taken and conversations that have occurred since step 1.
While nothing is guaranteed, following these six step will help protect your organization from possible violence and legal action. Your organization is not only protecting itself and the other employees, it is also creating a culture within where employees will feel more open to the idea of approaching their supervisor if they are having problems in the workplace or at home. This open communication will help avoid potentially violent workplace situations in the future.
Coming soon: Part 3 in this series of Employee Violence in the Workplace – How violent acts affect your organization.