We see it all too often in the news. A disgruntled employee goes to his workplace and shoots several people.
Though the major events make headlines, many more violent episodes occur in the workplace annually that don’t draw national media attention, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says. According to the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA), an average of nearly 2 million U.S. workers report being a victim of violence at work every year.
In 2019, 20,870 employees in the private sector experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence. And in 2018, 453 U.S. workers died from violence in the workplace, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Human Resource professionals are responsible for identifying and coordinating annual training for companies, yet a 2019 research report by SHRM found that nearly one in five HR professionals were either unsure or didn’t know what to do if they witnessed or were involved in workplace violence. More than half didn’t know whether their company had a workplace violence prevention program.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) describes workplace violence as the act or threat of violence, which ranges from verbal abuse to physical assaults on people who are at work or on duty.
Employees in sales, protective services or transportation are at a higher risk for fatal violent situations, while healthcare and social assistance workers are at higher risk for nonfatal violence resulting in time away from work, NIOSH said.
It’s imperative for HR professionals to stay aware of what is going on in the world and in business. With your employees as your most important asset in a company, any training or awareness tips and techniques to save their lives and those of their colleagues is important. Some states mandate that businesses have a workplace violence prevention plan.
SHRM recommends watching for warning signs that indicate the potential for violence by an employee. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lists changes in behavior as possible indicators, including an increase in the use of alcohol or illegal drugs, an unexplained increase in absenteeism, depression, overreaction to changes at work, unprovoked anger, and comments about problems at home. Employers should encourage employees to report unusual behavior or verbal threats by colleagues, SHRM says.
Any disgruntled employee who believes they have been wronged can act out in ways you would never have imagined.
To best prepare your staff for workplace violence, create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), and conduct training exercises. Together, the EAP and training exercises will prepare your staff to effectively respond to violent situations and help minimize the loss of life.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) describes an active shooter as someone who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Run, hide, fight are tactics used in FBI training to protect individuals and others from active shooters.
DHS offers these tips for responding to an active shooter situation:
- Evacuate, if possible:
- Have a plan for an escape route.
- Evacuate even if others don’t go with you.
- Leave your belongings behind.
- Help others escape.
- Keep people from entering the area where the active shooter is located.
- Hide: If you can’t evacuate, find a place to hide that:
- Is out of the shooter’s view.
- Provides protection from shots fired in your direction, such as an office with a closed and locked door.
- Doesn’t trap or restrict your movement.
To prevent the shooter from getting into your hiding place, lock the door and barricade it with furniture.
- Take action against the shooter only as a last resort if your life is in danger by:
- Acting aggressively toward the shooter.
- Throwing things at the shooter and improvising weapons.
To assist you in pulling a plan together, I recommend starting with DHS, which has a booklet at
If you have any questions about creating an EAP or preparing your staff, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Companies pivot as Great Resignation disrupts workforce
The Great Resignation is one result of the pandemic that led people to reassess what they want to do in life, forcing businesses to pivot to cope with workforce changes.
About 4.3 million people quit or resigned to take another job in December, according to The Washington Post. But December’s numbers weren’t far above the resignation numbers for the second half of 2021, during which 4 million people quit their jobs each month, The Post said.
Vaccine mandates still a hot issue
As the omicron variant begins to wane, public officials and employers continue to grapple with issues concerning COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
In January, a federal district court judge in Texas blocked President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal employees. The judge emphasized that he believed President Biden had overstepped his authority and the ruling did not reflect the court’s opinion about vaccinations, adding the court believes people should be vaccinated. The Biden administration has appealed the ruling. The policy had been challenged by federal employees and contractors.
50+ Job Seekers workshops
The 50+ Job Seekers Networking Group’s workshops and bilingual workshops are free and virtual on Zoom.
The next workshops are:
- Thursday, April 14, 10 a.m. to noon: Savvy Seeker Series: MassHire Services.
- Thursday, April 21, 2 to 4 p.m.: Marketing and Personal Branding, a special event with Stephen Melanson, president of Melanson Consulting, which was founded in 2004. He is a management consultant, trainer and Verbal Branding expert. Register in advance at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEtf-GopjMtGtREV5kEQqte0vH5UHAhPid0.
- Tuesday, April 26, 10 a.m. to noon: Job applications/Applicant Tracking Systems, an interactive workshop.
- Thursday, April 28, 11 a.m. to noon: Savvy Seeker Series: Reimagining Gender, with Sarah Gustafson, who has partnered with Reimagine Gender to help open the conversation about gender in business. Register in advance at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMrdOGqqzwuGNcGBEhukMxX1j8nCueu4JbA.
- Tuesday, May 3, 10 a.m. to noon: G2G (Give to Get).
- Wednesday, May 4, 2 to 4 p.m.: Savvy Seeker Series: The Sociology of Aspirations with Sociologist Ofer Sharone. Register in advance at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcudeqqqDwvEtQw-A33MuH0Tbb94QmoHd6B.
- Tuesday, May 10, 10 a.m. to noon: Cover Letters.
- Thursday, May 12, 11 a.m. to noon: Savvy Seeker Series: Healing through Music. Register in advance at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEldO6gqTMuH92FvkYrbhIB4z5ToEyLMSHW.
The interactive bilingual workshops meet from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays. The next few workshops are:
- April 27: Interview Practice.
- May 11: Cover Letters.
- May 25: Closing and Negotiating the Deal.
Register here for workshops that don’t have a link: https://50plusjobseekers.org/outreach/registration/.
The virtual doors open 15 minutes before each program starts. If you have questions, email us at email@example.com.
You can get in touch with me by downloading my digital business card by texting HRPRO to 21000 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.