Some issues shouldn’t be political or debatable. Feeling safe at work is one of them. We all carry the same expectation when we enter our workspace. We expect to be treated civilly by our managers and co-workers, and we expect to return home unharmed at day’s end.
It’s not all that much to ask, is it? Except workplace violence incidents are on the rise, so much that it has become endemic to the U.S. employee experience. Roughly 2 million workers are victims of workplace violence each year, according to OSHA estimates. Those occurrences range from verbal abuse and threats to assaults and homicides.
It’s a startling statistic. And as much as we’ve grown uncomfortably accustomed to daily headlines of mass shootings, we mustn’t stand idle on this issue. TR and HR leaders must take proactive measures in their workplace to be prepared for the unthinkable.
You know what doesn’t cut it? A generic clause in an employee handbook and a helpless shrug of the shoulder.
This month’s cover story, “Handle with Care,” addresses the paramount need for employees to feel safe in their personal space. TR and HR pros may feel ill-equipped to handle this burden, but the resources at their disposal and the influence they wield can help prevent dangerous confrontations and create safer work surroundings.
The instructive article also covers the importance of identifying red flags and assessing threats, while assisting employees in trouble. It speaks to the need of a multidisciplinary effort among HR, corporate security, general counsel and mental health specialists to deal with crisis management.
Some companies avoid difficult conversations with their employees for fear of legal repercussions. They are reluctant to discuss workplace violence or what may be an employee’s own personal dilemma: for example, his or her (or an immediate family member’s) immigration status (see “”).
Whether your life is routine and predictable or random and chaotic, day-to-day situations call for adaptability and composure. In a “see something, say something” environment, it is bad business practice (and etiquette) to shut down an employee’s desire to vocalize his or her concerns. The days of closed communications are behind us. Encourage your employees to air their grievances and express their worries. Build trust and witness the benefits of creating a sanctuary within your workplace.
Onward and upward,