Does Your Company Need a Workplace Violence Policy?

By Andrew Lu on September 06, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It is a sad commentary on the workplace that just about every employer needs to consider adding a workplace violence policy.

Just a few weeks ago, Jeffrey Johnson walked into the offices of his former employer and shot an ex-supervisor that he had been having problems with. And when people found out that it was an act of workplace violence -- and not terrorism -- the murder seemed to be less shocking, reports Inside Counsel.

Perhaps it's due to this increasingly commonplace nature of office shootings, that every employer should now consider adding workplace violence policies similar to how they have policies for truly everyday events like meal breaks and leaves of absence.

Adding a workplace violence policy to your company handbook takes very little effort and costs your company almost nothing. However, the potential benefits are immeasurable.

If you decide to add a workplace violence policy, some common provisions to consider, as reported by Inside Counsel, include:

  • Conduct background investigations of new hires and check for a history of violent behavior. In addition, check records of past employers and other references. Not hiring a potentially violent employee is the best step in preventing workplace violence.

  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy for threats, harassment, and acts of violence. If you nip the problem in the bud, you can potentially prevent situations from becoming violent.

  • Train supervisors and managers to not engage in bullying behaviors and spotting bullying by other employees. Oftentimes, perpetrators of workplace violence feel that they are backed into a corner and lash out.

  • Perform an audit for workplace safety. Review your workplace for any vulnerable areas and places where security could be added. Also interview employees and supervisors for any past incidents of workplace violence.

A workplace violence policy is not a guarantee against all workplace violence. However, adding a policy is relatively cheap, and your company probably cannot afford not to have one.

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