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How does HR deal with violence at the workplace?

Violence at workplace includes intimidation, harassment, disruptive or destructive behavior, threats
of violence and acts of physical violence. It affects employees, other workers, customers and even
visitors. As a result, the organization suffers from low workforce morale, fall in productivity and dent
in its reputation or brand image. Further, lawsuits filed by the victims have significant legal and
financial implications for the organization.

Although there is no known way to predict human behavior, there are warning signs to indicate
progression towards violent behavior. It is also not known as to what exactly triggers or causes
workplace violence. Nevertheless, it is attributed to a broad range of actions taking place in the work
environment. Regardless of the causes, circumstances, victims or perpetrators, the Human
Resources (HR) of the organization should not accept or tolerate violence in the workplace.

Dealing with Workplace Violence
One of the best methods of preventing workplace violence involves identification of potential
problems at the early stages and management of the same toward successful resolution. The HR
should be proactive in identifying, managing and ultimately resolving any issues that could result in
workplace violence.

Some emotional outbursts or confrontations are simply an outcome of work or personal life stress.
Most of the time, talking in private regarding the issues helps to defuse the situation before it
escalates further and goes out of control.

The following behaviors and attitudes are indicative of potential violence in the workplace:
1) Previously involved in acts of violent behavior or physical violence
2) Gets upset over recent work or personal events
3) Blames others for work or personal issues
4) Harbors feelings of hatred, resentment, grudge or vengeance
5) Withdraws from normal activities and avoids socializing
6) Changes behavior, demeanor or appearance overnight
7) Feels humiliated, violated, degraded or wronged
8) Feels superior to others and expects special rights or privileges
9) Challenges or resists authority and stops actively coordinating with peers
10) Intimidates, mistreats, harasses or gets verbally abusive
11) Showers unwanted romantic attention or resorts to stalking
12) Visibly addicted to drugs, tobacco or alcohol
13) Develops interests in destructive ideas or weapons
14) Believes that there are no other options except violence
15) Makes references to known acts or incidents of violence
16) Communicates acts of violence or plans of destruction
17) Threatens to harm self, others or property

In the event of a violent activity in the workplace, the employees should be taught to handle the
situation in a calm manner. The following guidelines help in controlling and defusing the situation
before experts intervene:

1) Respond quietly and calmly and do not take the behavior personally
2) Ask simple questions or offer an apology even though there is nothing to apologize about
3) Do not take sides either with the individual or her perceived enemy
4) Summarize what the individual has to say and focus on areas of agreement
5) Avoid touching the individual or try to get her out of the place
6) Avoid signaling for help or talk about discipline, authorities or repercussions
7) When situation gets out of control, try to get out of the place, if possible, or stay in groups
8) With armed individuals, it is best to get out the place, if possible, and to seek help