Workplace ViolenceCredit: microsoft officeCredit: microsoft office

A survey was published on Feb 29, 2012 by the Society for Human Resource Management that revealed that more than one third of organizations had a violent threat or actual violence take place.  We see time and time again the news reporting horror stories about people going into their workplace environment and killing their coworkers.  The question that remains afterwards is what could have been done to prevent this.  This type of situation has happened so often that every Human Resource Office as well as all company management should have a preventive plan in place.  Many times we are exposed to glimpses of potential violence before they take place.  How we handle this information is often the difference between thwarting such an event or having the violence acted out and jeopardizing the workforce.

Many precautions can be taken to stop these crimes from occurring.  Many employees are afraid to speak up when they see behavior that indicates possible dangerous situations.  Even though they may be afraid they all have an individual responsibility for their environment.  No one should have to work in a negative hostile environment.  There are some actions that can be taken by each of us to prevent or at least do as much as possible to stop violence at work.

Reporting any violent or aggressive behavior is your responsibility. If we are not part of the solution, then we become part of the problem.  By going to your direct supervisor and reporting any incidences or doing it anonymously it must be done.   This can be the difference in correcting the behavior or allowing it to escalate to the next level.  We all have a duty to report violent or aggressive behaviors towards us or others.  Avoiding the situation or ignoring it makes you just as responsible as the perpetrator.  Do your part and step up.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.  This goes across every aspect of our lives and is especially true in the workplace.  Being a bully and causing extra stress on a coworker can sometimes push them over the edge.  Make the workplace an atmosphere of growth and respect.  Even if you don’t like a particular person on the job you can still treat them humanely.  Nobody knows the emotional state of another person and by treating them any less than they deserve could bring out a part of them you don’t want to see. 

Be Vigilant.  Sometimes there are clues just prior to an act of aggression.  Always be aware of your surroundings.  Communicate with your coworkers are supervisors if you notice something out of the ordinary.  Taking a proactive stance is always better than a reactive stance.  Reaction often comes after someone has been hurt or killed.  Pay attention.

Think Safety.  Take precautions at work, for example:  Make sure you lock doors behind you.  Do not allow people to walk in behind you saying they left their keys or identification at home.  Tell them you will get a supervisor for them.  Keep control items secure such as your door keys and ID badges.  Don’t make yourself an easy target.  If an incident happens at work; stay calm, get out or hide and call 911.  


Workplace violence is disruptive and unnecessary.  We must all do our part to keep our workplace safe.  If we are vigilant, safety conscious, and take responsibility for reporting aggressive or violent behavior we play a part in stopping it.  Work should be a place for career development and innovation not a battlefield.  Do you part and keep yourself and others safe.