I cannot for the life of me picture someone coming into my office and killing people, however, just because I cannot imagine it, doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen. People tend to believe what they want to believe and often times, it’s that they are immune to disaster. The reality of that belief is, you are not immune to disaster and neither is your business. On August 24th, the staff of Virginia’s On King, a local restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina were in the middle of a lunch rush when a former employee returned to the restaurant after being fired and ordered about 30 customers to get down, while clutching a gun. The suspect killed one person during the hostage situation.
In order to prepare restaurant (and other business owners) for incidents such as this going forward, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office has invited business leaders and employees to attend a training session on violence in the workplace. Training is one of the most beneficial ways to ensure that your employees understand how to handle situations like this. Here are a few other tips on how your company can be prepared for workplace violence and how to mitigate the risk.
Preventing Workplace Violence Due to a Disgruntled Employee
When it comes to active shooters, training your employees and having an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) in place is the best way to mitigate fatalities from an attack and ensure employees know how to shelter in place or escape, if possible. As far as disgruntled employees are concerned, there are many ways to identify whether or not an employee might be a risk to the company. Knowing how to spot a high risk employee before they erupt is key to keeping your business and employees safe.
Employees with a Violent History
This should be an obvious bright red flag, but somehow it does often get brushed under the rug. If an employee has a history of violence, whether it be at work or in their personal lives, they are worth keeping an eye on. This probably is not a surprise, but these employees are the ones that often times turn into disgruntled employees. For example, the Charleston shooter had a history of violence and had been arrested for it previously. When he was fired, he became enraged and returned to the restaurant to seek revenge on his former place of employment.
A simple way to prevent an incident like this is by running a background check like ones of these state background checks on potential employees so you are aware of red flags. Also, adding a moral clause into your company’s hiring papers for in the event a situation arises during their employment is not a bad idea either. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure employee rights and employee safety.
Employees That Don’t Play Well with Others
No, that’s not referring to people who prefer to work independently, it’s referring to employees who simply do not get along with others and make their opinions well known. More specifically, employees who are aggressive. If an employee continuously complains about co-workers, puts others down or uses vulgar language directed towards others in the office, then you have a red flag. Not everyone in the office is going to like each other. When you work closely with others, they will get on your nerves, but if you can’t pull it together long enough to be professional, then that’s a problem.
The best way to handle this is to nicely, privately and firmly explain to them that their negative attitude towards co-workers is not welcome in this environment and see if a calm conversation can help get to the root of the issue. Make sure they are aware that if the behavior continues, it will result in termination of their job to ensure a safe and pleasant work environment for everyone else. It’s also a good idea to have this documented as a reference point for if the behavior continues.
Employees Who Often Discussing Hurting Others
This is another obvious red flag. If an employee often discusses how much they want to “punch” or “kill” someone, this needs to be handled ASAP. I’m not talking about the 18 year old intern saying to her other 18 year old intern friend, “Omg, I hate that picture of me you posted, I’m gonna kill you!” That’s a joke, we get it. If it’s in a more aggressive tone or followed up with anger or even a plan, then you have a red flag.
Again, the best way to handle this type of situation is with a calm, private conversation. Letting the employee know that you value their feelings and getting to the root of what causes their anger is a great start. However, follow that up by letting them know that the behavior is not going to fly at the office. There’s a time and a place for everything, and plotting your co-workers death is not a 9-5 activity, or an anytime activity for that matter.
Preparis Prepares You for Workplace Violence
God forbid your company encounters a situation where workplace violence occurs at your business, you need to be prepared. You need to know what to do and not only you, all of the staff need to know what to do as well (yes, I’m about to talk about training again). Your business needs to ensure that all staff is trained on how to handle sensitive and dangerous situations, such as an active shooter. This will prevent employees “freezing” and not knowing what to do. An emergency notification system is also a great idea. If someone enters the building on lunch break and some people are in the office and others are headed back from the Olive Garden across the street, guess what they are going to walk into? The shooting. With an emergency notification system, you can send out a text or call letting staff know to escape if they can, shelter in place if they need to and not to re-enter the building. As an all-in-one business continuity solution, Preparis is able to provide you with everything you need to ensure the safety of your business and your employees.
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