Employee Engagement, Wellbeing, and Wellness All Matter in Preventing Workplace Violence

A couple of years ago, a company that we will keep confidential due to the sensitivity of the report we are summarizing suffered an active shooter incident that was perpetrated by an employee of that organization. After the incident, a comprehensive study was conducted to assess the workplace climate and culture within the facility where this incident occurred. The assessment, conducted by a third party contractor, revealed that even though employees were overall happy with the company, their job duties, benefits, and compensation, there were key cultural themes that contributed to a significantly unhealthy climate and culture within that facility. Included in these factors were:

* Absence of leadership – Where it was apparent that some leaders failed to identify and/or acknowledge the dysfunction within organizations they serve

* Negative perception of managers – Employees perceived their managers to be more concerned about how they are viewed by top management and less concerned about how their own employees viewed them

* Decision Making – Employees felt like no manager ultimately took responsibility for things that went wrong thus they felt like employees were often blamed for any failures

* Work-Life Balance – Employees felt like there was a lack of an effective system for ensuring balanced workloads and at the same time that they could not ask for help or extensions because they feared they would be viewed as trouble makers by their supervisors or managers

* Communication – Where it often was delayed, lacked details, felt filtered or to be disingenuous. There appeared to be an over reliance on email, texting, or written forms of communication between managers and line employees which in turn was causing an interpersonal effect that failed to produce personal relationships

* Safety and Security – Employees noted that before the active shooter incident, security efforts at their facility was “lax” citing that other facilities owned by the organization are secure and require ID badges to move to and from departments. Employees acknowledged that a secured facility would not have prevented the incident since the shooter was a fellow employee; however, they believed that a more visible security team may be a significant deterrent

* Employee Recognition – Simply put, employees felt like managers took all the credit when things went right, but blamed them when things went wrong

* Employee Appraisal Process – Employees felt like appraisals were unwieldy and confusing, sometimes being pejorative and critical without being constructive or offering actionable expectations for the employee’s development

* Inconsistent application of HR Policies and Practices

The facility assessed is comprised of approximately 1,800 employees including executives, managers, supervisors, line employees, and contractors. Although this assessment revealed little about security concerns in this organization, it places the spotlight on climate concerns that may eventually lead to employee distrust and/or intensified stress/pressure with no outlet. This assessment also sheds some light on the importance of culture studies and an even higher importance on the timing of such studies. Much like your health, car, or any machinery and networks, the climate of your organization requires “preventative maintenance” so deficiencies can be identified and worked on before they become problems.

As the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20” and unfortunately many organizations do not realize that using another’s hindsight as a prevention effort is not only acceptable, but responsible. Whether your organization is comprised of five employees, or 10,000, we recommend you take time to consider some the following workplace violence prevention efforts:

– Develop a manager/leadership training program that develops those junior leaders, in the company corporate climate, the legal aspects of being a manager, including having a working knowledge of basic HR issues, not necessarily to be able to handle specific, HR related questions and concerns, but at least have the ability to answer general questions.

– Conduct a culture and climate study of your organization and make the necessary adjustments or remedial training where needed

– Consider including your security manager in the planning and review of your wellness program

– Conduct specialized, focused security awareness training which should include Workplace Violence Prevention unique to separate audiences within your organization such as:
* Threat Evaluation Team members
* Executives
* Managers and Supervisors
* Employees and Contractors

– Establish a confidential reporting system that will keep the reporting party anonymous

– On a quarterly basis (at least) C-suite personnel should review culture trends such as absenteeism, LOAs do to stress, Workman’s comp claims, and disciplinary actions and should follow up on issues or deficiencies

– Make an effort to promote employee wellbeing and morale by conducting team building events, town hall meetings, and enhancing employee benefits based on the organization’s climate. It should be noted that having “Town Hall” meetings requires follow through so that concerns or accolades presented in that open forum are acted on and not simply dismissed as the usual “employee complaint session”. Action on those issues needs to be measured and visible.

We believe that if you invest in the people responsible for serving those who invest in your organization, your dividends will inevitably increase.

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Why The 7 P’s Matter

Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Perhaps you’ve heard there are five, maybe 6, or even 8 P’s to this mnemonic. Regardless of the variables, the principle message, relating it to workplace planning is the same:
Hire the right experience, as a preemptive measure, to create an effective workplace violence prevention program that supports your organizational goals and is well aligned with the company culture. Training and practice drills should be the norm; not just a one time exercise and everyone, top management included, must be committed to the program 100%.
It is often said that practice makes perfect. We say practice creates a habit. A habit then becomes a mindset which will, in turn, enable everyone to subconsciously be alert to the possibilities and more prepared to respond should that possibility ever become a reality.

The 7 P’s At Work

During the unfortunate tragedy of September 11, 2001, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. lost 6 employees. Although those were 6 lives too many, they were 6 out of the 2,700 employees that worked in the south tower. Among them were Vice President of Corporate Security for Morgan Stanley, Rick Rescorla and two of his security officers who remained in the ill-fated building to conduct a final sweep of their floors. As Mr. Rescorla’s Memorial page puts it he, “Died Like He Lived: A Hero.”

As the head of security for Morgan Stanley, Rick Rescorla understood and followed the 7 P’s. Before the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Rick and his security consultant and long time friend, Dan Hill assessed the building and determined that a major vulnerability existed in the underground garage; a finding that Mr. Rescorla brought to the Port Authority’s attention but was ultimately ignored. After the attack in 1993, Mr. Rescorla recognized that the building would inevitably be hit again and even recommended that Morgan Stanley move out of the World Trade Center. When his recommendation was not followed, Mr. Rescorla made it his mission to protect the lives of those he was entrusted with the next best way he could. Mr. Rescorla would go on to develop the company’s comprehensive emergency procedures plan and was even successful in having the Port Authority upgrade some of the building’s emergency equipment. Mr. Rescorla constantly conducted drills in which even the company’s top executives participated, and he was successful in developing each and every employees’ mindset. In a short film that highlights Mr. Rescorla’s heroic acts, survivors constantly make mention about what Rick had always told them and every survivor interviewed, credits Mr. Rescorla for their safe evacuation from the south tower. It should be noted that the orders for Morgan Stanley employees to evacuate came from Rick Rescorla despite the Port Authority asking the building’s occupants to stay on their floors. One can only imagine just how much worse this nightmare would have been for Morgan Stanley had their employees not been conditioned and committed.

Why the 7 P’s Matter

Owners and executives may mean well, but if they do not understand the threats or vulnerabilities their businesses face, they will not be committed nor support the program 100%. Without the proper support, even the best plan will run the risk of being ineffective. Without Morgan Stanley’s commitment to its plan, the proper prior planning and preparation efforts by Rick Rescorla would have most likely not produced the same favorable results.

Below are some important tips to consider when developing or redesigning your workplace violence prevention program:

– Seek experienced professionals to help develop or support your plan. If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.

– The plan must be centered on leadership. If the leadership recognizes the need, they will support the prevention strategies and be committed.

– Take into consideration employee wellness programs and company culture. Conducting a culture study of your organization may yield some surprising results that will help you recognize if a culture change is needed.

– Ensure the program has specific training layers that target each audience respectively such as line employees, supervisors, managers, and executives.

– Train, train, and train some more. Include realistic training such unannounced drills or secret role playing where you test a manager or supervisor’s ability to receive and investigate a report.

Rick Rescorla’s Memorial Page

The Man Who Predicted 9/11 (VIDEO)

OmniPresent Security Group


Why Mindset Matters

Mindset is defined as “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” It is an idea or inclination as to how a person will approach a situation. The survival mindset also referred to as the “Warrior” mindset is typically possessed by those in the Military, law enforcement and other first responder positions. It enables those warriors to develop an attitude of identifying threats, accepting their situation, and quickly mitigating or eliminating that threat.

Why Mindset Matters

How many first responders do you have in your organization? On average, it takes responding agencies three to five minutes if not more to reach your workplace in the event of an emergency. In most cases of workplace violence, by the time the responding agencies arrive, the perpetrator has already caused irreversible damage to your organization. In today’s world, employees have become the initial first responders as they will be forced to react to a workplace violence incident with one purpose in mind: Survival.

Integrating mindset development training into your workplace violence prevention plan does not mean training your employees to become weapon wielding warriors who will subdue and eliminate the threat. The best defense in prevention is identifying deficiencies before they become problems. Training employees to develop an attitude of identifying potential violence indicators and how to report them is one of the most effective ways to empower each individual. Along with good mindset development training, supervisors and managers must also be trained on effective hiring practices and how to handle reports that come in from concerned employees. It should be noted that training alone does not constitute a complete workplace violence prevention plan. It is equally as important for supervisors, managers, and executives to be engaged and well aligned with the company’s culture. Senior executives should consider reviewing the organization’s trends as frequently as they review their P&L statements. Among the trends to be closely monitored are leaves of absences due to stress, sudden and excessive absenteeism, and employee complaints.

At OmniPresent Security Group, we believe that “Security should be a Mindset, Not a State of Mind”. Our goal is to make security awareness a ‘second nature’ so employees can develop a habit of identifying warning signs and be inclined to automatically report them. Every program we develop is tailored to align with our client’s organizational culture and takes into account current and past statistical data of trends and incidents.

How can we help your organization?

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The State of Society

“We have to change the culture one person at a time, one incident at a time,” said Cleveland Police Chief, Calvin Williams during a press conference about a father who shot and killed his toddler son during a domestic dispute early Tuesday. The man, whose name was not released, is allegedly a convicted felon who should not have owned or possessed any weapons. As Chief Williams put it, this tragedy may have been prevented if someone who knew about the weapon had called police.

We believe the “Should have said something” afterthoughts of family members, friends, and even neighbors are echoing louder and louder in the wake of these repeated acts of violence, such as the senseless shooting deaths of Las Vegas Police Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck on June 8th. A neighbor of the two shooters admitted to reporters that she, “wished she had called police” on the shooters when they ranted about their plans to commit a mass shooting. Another neighbor, Brandon Moore, told the Las Vegas Sun that the shooters were “handing out white-power propaganda and were talking about doing the next Columbine.” Although police had visited this couple in February to follow up on some threatening remarks they reportedly made against a government agency in Indiana, at the time of the visit the detectives did not deem the couple a threat, but if more calls had been made, a clearer puzzle would have been formed.

The sad truth is that I could go on and on about what society could have or should have done to prevent a lot of the violence that has transpired over time, but my interest is in the future. How to move forward and finally, as society, learn our role in our own personal safety. Humans are not born trained killers. As such, anyone who commits these acts of violence will always show warning signs. Sometimes they are as obvious as the Las Vegas shooters’ and others not so much. So where do we begin?

MY VIEW ON THE STATE OF SOCIETY: As long as we have competent law enforcement, medical, and military personnel, we are safe.
While I agree that the competence of all our public servants is second to none, I believe that personal security starts with you. Pay attention to your surroundings, to what people are saying or doing. Am I asking you to become an overly paranoid or nosy human being? No. But take the time to listen to your inner self. That sixth sense that makes you get a funny feeling in your stomach or perhaps makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you see or hear something that just doesn’t seem right. Then, take the time to properly report it. Whether it be a simple click and a short explanation to YouTube about why you feel a video you just watched should be looked into, or a call to your local police station. Do it. It has proven to be an effective method to preventing horrific events such as the street vendor who notified police about the suspicious vehicle in Times Square or the aware citizen in a Minnesota town. When properly reported and investigated, bad things can be prevented.

GUN CONTROL AND RESPONSIBILITY: Much like a drunk driver, not the alcohol, is blamed for an accident that kills innocent people, the shooter, not the gun, is to be blamed for incidents that result in the deaths of innocent people. With that said, how the would be shooter obtains the gun that he/she will use to carry out an attack is something that needs to finally be resolved. Regardless of your political affiliation or beliefs, I am certain that now, more than ever, everyone can agree that the frequency of violent attacks has drastically risen. Now is not the time to continue the debate about the interpretation of our Second Amendment. “A well regulated Militia” is not stripped of its rights to keep and bear arms, but it is just that: Regulated. Enough lives have been lost because more than enough lawyers and law makers have been debating on words and interpretations. Stop the debates and start with actions. Gun owners need to also do their part by safeguarding their weapons to prevent minors from easily accessing them and also to minimize the chance of them being stolen.

PRIORITIZE SPENDING: Though we defer our safety to those in uniform, we limit their funding. Most police departments lack enough funding to hire the right amount of officers let alone to maintain an effective Community Policing program. Community Policing programs educate the community. We can’t change the culture without education. We can’t educate without funding.

This also applies to privately held companies’ workplace violence prevention programs. Chief Executives must recognize the vitality of funding a program that will effectively identify their business’ challenges and mitigate vulnerabilities through preemptive training that engages every member of their organization. Training just to check the box often does more harm than good. Training to maintain a culture that is inclusive and mindful of the employee’s well being is an excellent start.

Changing the culture does start with changing one person at a time. Start with yourself. Remember, you are society so in blaming society, you blame yourself.

Referenced Stories:

Man in domestic dispute kills toddler son

Police release details on June 8th shooters

Foundation Aimed to End #Workplace #Violence

Friends and family of the late Michael Lunn, who was one of the employees killed at the Nanaimo mill shooting on April 30th are establishing the Red Shirt Foundation aimed at putting a stop to workplace violence. This non-profit society was formed when family friends were discussing the tragedy and decided to put the plan into action immediately.

Lynn Jacques, longtime Lunn family friend and chairwoman of the newly formed foundation said, “I think we will culminate in a national red shirt day on April 30, where people from around the world will stop and take notice and just say ‘Yes, we need to stop this.'” We say, absolutely! Despite the tragedy, it is a breath of fresh air to see people taking action and only hope that this foundation gets more than just National attention.

We will support the April 30th red shirt day!

Read the full Article


Business Security a Balance of Risk, Cost #HR #training #awareness

Violence in the workplace is at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts – or is it? The Insurance Information Network reports that there are 650 homicides, 2 million assaults, and 6 million serious threats reported each year in the workplace, with two-thirds of the incidents preceded by behavioral red flags but, “A typical corporate office is simply not ready for a determined assault and most companies do not want the cost and climate that comes with that kind of protection” said Darrell Mercer of Mercer Protection Agency in an article published by TheLedger.com

While insurers offer employers workplace safety policies to cover incidents in the workplace, often the value of life is not fully put into perspective. As such, instead of just considering the ROI, business owners should also take a hard look at the ROL: Return on Life.

Recognizing that there are limits to what security can do to prevent workplace violence, Douglas Duerr, an Atlanta lawyer specializing in labor and employment at Elarbee Thompson said, “The thing to do is to have training on what are the potential indicators of someone who might become violent.”

At OmniPresent Security Group we stress that hope is not a strategy. Promoting Security Awareness among the workplace is vital – but it must start at the top.

Read TheLedger.com Full Article



Aware Citizens Prevent Planned Attack #awareness

According to authorities in Waseca, Minnesota, a teen was planning a series of attacks that included killing his family, a school resource officer, and students at the Waseca Junior and Senior High Schools.

“This is a classic example of citizens doing the right thing and calling the police when things seem out of place. By doing the right thing, [an] unimaginable tragedy has been prevented,” said the Waseca Police Department.

It is clear that incidents of this nature are on the rise. Remember to stay alert, aware, alive. If you see something, say something.

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More professionals are turning to self defense classes

In the wake of increasing incidents in the workplace or places of public gatherings, more young professionals are turning to self defense classes.

ABC interviewed Tzviel “BK” Blankchtein, owner of Masada Tactical who said they are definitely seeing an increase in clients seeking self defense training. “It’s unfortunate that we see on the news all the time that our world is not getting any safer,” Blankchtein said. “If anything, things are getting worse. As things are getting worse we need to give people the tools to defend themselves”

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Two wrongs make a….right?

In a Canada case, the judge ruled that a “kick on the butt” excused a punch on the mouth that resulted in $7,000 of dental work.

Regardless of the outcome, signs of potential problems are often overlooked or even ignored because managers either do not know how to deal with a conflict between co-workers or worst assume and hope that employees “know better.”

Hope is not a strategy. It’s always a good time to review your workplace violence policy and ensure managers are up to date on their training.

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