You can’t guarantee everyone on your staff will enjoy every aspect of their jobs, but you can strive to make sure employees feel comfortable and safe when at work. Implementing and enforcing workplace safety policies and procedures requires examining the issue from all angles and developing concrete guidelines that address situations that may lead to workplace violence and bullying.
Assess your company’s violence and bullying risk
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), each year approximately 2 million American workers a year document themselves as victims of violence in their professional lives. In 2017, there were over 18,000 injuries to American workers intentionally caused by other persons that required one or more days away from work, and over 700 that resulted in death over half of which were ruled homicides by law enforcement. More than two-thirds of the victims were women. These are alarming statistics that don’t even include unreported workplace violence.
If one has not already been done, perform a comprehensive risk assessment of your organization through subtle but meticulous research. Account for violence against workers by non-employees (such as assaults on nurses or mass shootings) as well as altercations between employees that turn physical.
Establish zero tolerance for bullying
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 19% of Americans have been bullied at work and another 19% have witnessed it. All told, more than 60 million people in the U.S. have suffered from in-office bullying, making it important to factor into your workplace safety strategy.
OSHA recommends that employers establish a clear, written zero-tolerance policy against workplace violence and bullying. It should be seamlessly integrated with your existing employee handbook and readily accessible so those who instigate bullying or violence can’t plead ignorance. Impose any and all disciplinary measures necessary – within the parameters of any applicable federal, state or local employment laws. In situations where violence is a regular risk, Rave Mobile Safety recommends establishing quick-alert procedures that can notify building security immediately.
Create training sessions
Training can help employees deal with workplace violence and bullying. They must understand the importance of immediately reporting any and all incidents and writing down a detailed account of what happened. Training also should include mental self-defense tactics deployable in the moment: for example, management consultant Lynne Curry told Fast Company that employees who remain neutral and show no emotion when being bullied can rob aggressors of their intended reaction and defuse the situation. Above all, remaining calm in the event of violence or bullying is key.
Remember the mental factor
Just a single incident of workplace violence or bullying can traumatically weigh on the mind even if victims or witnesses handle it well. It can lead to anxiety, depression or disengagement. Keep an eye on workers who’ve experienced these stressors and guide them to behavioral health resources your benefits package offers – if there aren’t any, you should try to rectify that as soon as possible.