Violence response for leaders

Questions for assessing an employee's propensity for violence in the workplace. Consider recommending that the employee see a trauma counsellor.

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Various checklists can be completed to assess propensity for violence, but it should be noted that there are no absolute methods for assessing if someone is going to be violent in the workplace.

Any concerns regarding violence must be taken seriously. If there is concern that someone could become violent, this needs to be thoroughly examined by a trauma counsellor who may be available through an employee assistance program or other services. 

Some suggested questions to consider when determining if any violent action may result could include:

  • Does the person engage in poor judgment?
  • Have they exhibited violent behaviours (in the workplace or personally) in the past to resolve issues?
  • Do they exhibit negative coping skills?
  • Are they known or suspected of abusing substances, which is correlated with violent behaviour?
  • Have they exhibited isolation, non-communication, and/or social withdrawal, which are tendencies that have been known to correlate with workplace violence?
  • If a recent criminal background check is on file, has this been reviewed? The more recent the historical acts of violence (if any), the more pertinent.
  • Have there been any progressive or increasingly problematic indicators to potential workplace violence such as harassment, bullying, threats, intimidation, verbal/physical abuse, sense of entitlement, insubordination, isolation or any other potential indicators?

    *Adapted from Propensity for Violence Assessment from Personal Assistance Services 

Additional resources

Addressing domestic violence. Approaches to identify and respond when you feel an employee may be at risk of domestic violence. It is mandatory in some provinces for employers to protect employees who are at risk.

Anger. Anger can be a very difficult emotion because of our upbringing, societal norms and our fear of the intensity this emotion can bring. Anger is a valuable emotion; it’s our reaction to it that we may need to adjust to prevent harm to ourselves and others.

Conflict response for leaders. The following conflict resolution process provides a guideline and techniques that can be helpful in managing a conflict between co-workers. This can be especially effective when stress or mental health is a factor. This respectful approach focuses on solutions rather than disagreement.

Violence prevention. Tips for refining or creating effective and enforceable policies to prevent violence in the workplace. These strategies can help you develop and communicate policies for leaders and employees. 

Contributors include.articlesMary Ann BayntonWorkplace Strategies team 2007-2021

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