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Each day in the American Workplace, thousands of
employees are harassed, intimidated, threatened
and verbally or physically attacked - this according
to independent research conducted by a national
insurance carrier. In some instances these incidents
result in grave injuries or death. While the media
often only reports the sensational cases involving a
berserk co-worker or former employee, the pervasive
threats and harassment in the workplace are justifiably
of concern to employers. Human resource managers,
directors of security, labor attorneys, and others
charged with maintaining a safe work environment are
painfully aware of this growing problem. It is a
phenomenon that has workers uneasy about their safety.
As if to reinforce this heightened concern, juries across
the United States are awarding multi-million dollar
judgments to many of those injured by workplace violence.
The chief problem facing business and the public sector
has been the lack of information and qualified professional
assistance to reduce the potential for a violent incident.
In our comprehensive method of helping organizations
reduce the risk of workplace violence, the Workplace
Violence Research Institute approaches the challenge
from two paths: Consulting and Training.
- Evaluation of existing workplace violence
prevention program and related policies:
The prevention of workplace violence is not
the domain of any single department within an
organization. Effective programs involve key
areas, including human resources, security,
employee assistance programs, legal and, if
applicable, unions. Within each of these
disciplines many of the elements of an effective
prevention program already exist. It is our first
task to determine those policies and procedures
currently in place that reduce the potential for
In conjunction with department policies, we
also assess security and safety related policies,
security plans, physical security and controls,
emergency and contingency planning
- Design of a client-specific workplace
violence prevention program:
Once current programs are evaluated, the Workplace
Violence Research Institute will assist in the
development of those policies that are lacking
and then combine all measures into a cohesive
program. Only when there is a program that
addresses the specific requirements of the
organization, that has been formalized in
accordance with the standard practices of that
firm, can the second and critical step of training begin.
- Violence potential analysis
Of the various methods we have used, the most
effective in gaining an accurate reading of
potential threat levels that exist in the work
environment is through employee focus group interviews.
Using techniques and lines of questioning that we have
designed and tested to solicit vital information,
we conduct informal group interviews with employees
that reflect the wide range of functions and levels.
Often the results of these frank discussions are
surprising to management. The information gained
is used to structure the training program which will
impart the vital material of the prevention program
in a manner that addresses the employees’ concerns.
It allows further customization of programs to reflect
the issues facing employees at different ranking, other
divisions, or other locations. Even among employees of
one company, perceptions of issues and threat vary dramatically.
- Executive Planning Committee Facilitator:
We have found with many of the companies and agencies
we assist, it is difficult for staff to dedicate the
time necessary to formulate the policies and procedures
for an effective workplace violence prevention program.
Senior consultants of the Workplace Violence Research
Institute act as facilitators for your program.
We assist in establishing the Executive Committee,
formulating and implementing the necessary policies
and procedures, developing training programs for
employees and promoting the program as a benefit
for all employees.
- Executive Briefing:
This concise briefing provides an overview of
occupational violence to the organization’s
senior most management. In addition to exploring
the effect threats, harassment, intimidation and
violence have on the workforce, we educate company
officials on the cost of workplace violence, legal and
ethical requirements, liability, and return-on-investment.
To reinforce the sound economics of prevention, the
Workplace Violence Research Institute uses the projected
economic cost of incidents of workplace violence from its
most recent research, and details the estimated financial
impact that occupational violence has on the organization.
To ensure that the time invested by the senior management
is used most effectively, the Institute will be thoroughly
versed in current programs, any past incidents, and any
programs under development within the client-organization.
This allows us to tailor the presentation and to properly
address questions from participants.
- Orientation Session for Senior Managers:
The Workplace Violence Research Institute will
present a general overview to senior managers
within the key areas of Human Resources, Employee
Assistance Program, Risk Management, Legal Counsel,
Union or Bargaining Unit Representative and others
as appropriate. This overview deals with the
concerns of occupational violence, the costs to
the organization should an incident occur, the
potential exposures and liabilities, and a discussion
of the options for a prevention program that is
designed specifically for the organization and administered
by an inter-departmental executive committee.
- Supervisor/Manager Seminars:
The Workplace Violence Research Institute has
designed a four-hour seminar for supervisors and
managers of all levels with presentation variances
for ethnic, cultural, language, and educational
differences that iscustomized for each client-organization.
Personnel attending one of these seminars will be given
an overview of the history and causes of workplace
violence and an orientation on communication, stress
management, conflict resolution, and responding to
aggressive behavior. They will also be briefed on
the organization’s violence prevention program and
policies. These supervisory and management personnel
will also be trained on Symptom Recognition, a
comprehensive program we have developed to help
employees learn to recognize the warning signs
exhibited by current and former employees contemplating
- Symptom Recognition Workshop:
Even the most sophisticated workplace violence
prevention program will fail unless all employees
participate. This involvement and support is only
possible if all employees possess the knowledge and
understanding to correctly identify the warning signs
of potentially violent behavior and then have a means
to communicate these observations to management in a
manner that does not contradict or violate personal
or cultural standards of behavior. This training
provides employees with the tools necessary to become
effective components of the prevention program.
If desired, we can provide training for the
Human Resources or Training personnel to allow
the program, once it has been developed, to be
presented to employees. This will provide an
internal resource for both the initial and continuing
- Threat Assessment/Incident Response Team Training
As another integral part of the workplace violence
prevention program, the Threat Assessment/Incident
Response Team is called on to analyze information
about threatening behavior, develop and implement
the proper response to reduce the potential of an
incident and minimize the risks faced by employees
and management. Team members are experts in their
respective areas of specialty, but become more
effective as a group if they possess a knowledge
of the issues that are central to workplace violence.
Training also allows the skills to be developed to
properly interpret the information that flows from
employees concerned about co-worker behavior.
This instructional session addresses the decision-making
process used in dealing with a variety of threats and
specific scenarios that our experience has shown is
most likely to occur. The team will be provided with
tools to blend their respective talents to develop a
cohesive team approach to the situations that are presented.
- Collateral Materials:
With the exception of the Executive Briefing,
all segments of the training program include
a comprehensive set of materials for participants’
use and future reference. The Workplace Violence
Research Institute has found that the training is
more effective and retention is greater if attendees
have a handout to use during the session and as a
reference source. Training materials are customized
to the organization’s program and contain references
to established company policies where appropriate.
In addition, the training sessions make extensive
use of slides or overhead transparencies, depending
on group size. These elements keep the training on
track and increase audience satisfaction and retention.