Why do employees need to be trained in preventing WPV?

Written By: Robert D. Sollars

The following is a paraphrased statement I received from a General Manager when pitching him a workplace violence (WPV) workshop. “Why do I need to train employees on workplace violence? I mean, they don’t need to know all that stuff. it’ll just clog their day. And I don’t think they need to know that nonsense, because they need to do their job & concentrate on making the business successful so they’ll have a job tomorrow!” Obviously, this was before the pandemic hit and millions were laid off indefinitely.

The answer I gave him before being ushered out the door briskly, was simple… “Their families need to know if they’re coming home at night and to keep the business financially sound and operational due to any litigation that may occur.” It was blunt, succinct, and obviously irritating, he sent me packing by saying just as simply “I’m out of time for this crap, now find someone else to bother with this bullsh**.”

Far too many times, the reasoning for not conducting training on WPV is financial, or arrogance, which this was. If the training takes place during business hours then it’s lost productivity. If it’s off-hours, they must be paid. Therefore, it’s lost money, and anything that interferes with the financial operations …is simply not allowed, according to the mindset of most business owners.

Secondly, it’s the Chh, Can’t Happen Here attitude. The organizations’ attitude that I mentioned above. Many companies don’t train their employees on protecting themselves and co-workers on WPV. If not that one, it’s the second-worst one …” the customer is paramount & to hell with the employee…be lucky they have a job…it’ll never happen here”.

The master key in preventing WPV isn’t guards, alarms, fences, or other electronic devices…it’s training. Your employees need to know what to look for in co-workers and why, and how to handle angry customers (drunk or high the same). Warning signs, all 25 of them and more per your industry, especially are something to train them on…this is the first vital and practical step in prevention. anyone.

From my own experience, observation, & perspective, despite lip-service, most companies consider any training over and above the orientation session, is useless and too trivial to worry about. In some cases, they may be correct, but not in this one. If you have an incident, do you want to have employees that are informed and know what to do or just run around in sheer panic, like a chicken with its head cut off, making it worse for everyone?

Isn’t re-fresher training on sexual harassment or their benefits necessary? Maybe changes in shift hours or conditions? How about a new machine or product line? You have to spend time to train them on these, so you should consider WPV training as a business essential. That is of course if you really care about their welfare and not being sued if something were to happen, as remote as the possibility is.

But what do you train your employees in, other than the 25 warning signs? Here is a shortlist of the things that they need to know to hopefully avoid an incident.

  • Where WPV occurs. Sometimes organizational issues follow them home
  • Attitudes that they, and others in the company, may have that may encourage an incident from customers or co-workers.
  • Fight, run, or hide. You’ve seen the video and read the materials. But I think it needs to be taught, including the fight aspect, yes fight.
  • Situational Awareness. Your employees need to have situational awareness, what it is, and how to develop it. Without it, they may be clueless about what is happening or about to come. And that could prove fatal.
  • Evacuation Plans. If an (ex) employee comes into the business and creates havoc, they will know every evacuation door. So, the employees need to be instructed to think out-of-the-box in these situations, not forgetting about anyone who may be disabled.

 Training for an incident of WPV should be like all other programs. It needs to be done on a continual and consistent basis. It does no good to train for anything for a few days and then drop it because you don’t have the time, energy, or financial resources. You have to take the time, find the money, and the energy to do it.

How do I answer those people who ask those questions? I tell them, bluntly & succinctly, one incident can put them out of business because of the cost, and that it can happen to anyone, at any time, anywhere, for any reason. While the frequency of fatal WPV may be low, it can still murder their business, starting with the costs of litigation against them, personally and organizationally.

It happens to Anyone…Any Time… Anywhere… For any Reason

I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear

Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.

Copyright 2021 Robert D. Sollars

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