In dozens of interviews with co-workers and family members of mass attack suspects, a common articulated theme is that they knew something was wrong and could end in violence, but they didn’t know what to do or who to tell.
Once employees become familiar with the indicators, management must provide a means for them to act on their concerns and then must have a mechanism in place to responsibly address those concerns. Your WPV policy should include multiple avenues for employees to comfortably report their concerns without fear of retribution. Even anonymous reporting, sometimes frowned upon in other matters, should be made available to employees, especially in small environments.
Reporting methods should be communicated to employees in numerous ways. These include posters in break-rooms, email reminders, and intranet home page links to a reporting tool. Small banks in particular, where “everybody knows everyone,” might want to offer an external contact number for reporting. Perhaps a community mental health center or your Employee Assistance Program vendor can partner in this endeavor.
Once employees report a concern, the ball is in management’s court. An effective WPV program includes a strong protocol to address reporting in a professional, credible, and timely manner. If employees perceive that their reports are not taken seriously, you may never receive another report.
Assemble a workplace violence council including your HR leader, legal advisor, and security director, and preferably, a mental-health professional. Keep the team contact numbers in your smartphone to quickly convene a meeting.
Sometimes the risk becomes reality. Preventive measures, training, and personnel actions can’t always predict and prevent the myriad vagaries of human behavior. Preparing your employees to survive an active attacker is a logical part of any WPV Prevention and Response program.
Such training need not be burdensome nor protracted. For example, the ExploreSecure active shooter training video.
this takes a few minutes but could save lives. The simple act of thinking through “what ifs” with employees to strategize where to run, what rooms and offices have locking doors to provide concealment, and what items in an office can be used to fight an attacker, is time well spent.
Employees who understand that their safety is your top priority and that everyone plays a role in ensuring a safe environment, will develop the stewardship mindset and contribute to an effective and credible workplace violence prevention program. Enlist your employees in your program development and keep your business safe and productive.
Frank Figliuzzi is the Chief Operating Officer of ETS Risk Management, Inc., and consults with global clients on Workplace Violence, Insider Threat, and Investigations. He was the FBI’s Assistant Director for Counterintelligence and served as a Special Agent for 25 years. He also works as a National Security Contributor for NBC News.