New Year’s Resolution to Help Avoid Workplace Violence
Part 1 of 5
Ah, the fresh start of a new year. It is everyone’s favorite time for a personal or professional ‘reboot’ to accomplish new goals over the next 12 months. Typically, these resolutions are inward-focused, with people seeking to find better health, express more kindness, switch careers, and so on. This year, we suggest you and your organization make an outward-focused resolution instead, with the mission to create a safer workplace for your valuable employees. As with all resolutions, this lofty goal will risk failure if not thoughtfully and carefully implemented. You will be most successful if you take time on the front end to fully understand the required steps along the way to achieve the desired outcome. It may seem like a massive undertaking, but don’t worry! We are here to help you navigate each step and offer guidance on what is essential and which pieces are more optional. This first article of the series will outline the components of your Workplace Violence Program and dive deeper into getting this resolution started off on the right track.
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Defining Your Workplace Violence Program
Let’s first define a Workplace Violence Program. We look at a program as having three main pillars: Policies and Procedures; Training; and Physical Security/Infrastructure. All three pillars must be properly addressed to have a comprehensive program that will effectively prevent or mitigate violence within your organization. We know that can seem overwhelming, so before diving into this series on what to do within each component, we want to stress that you can easily make significant and valuable improvements for your employees’ safety by just picking one solution to start and then work towards completing the others. Training is often the best starting point if you are looking for a budget friendly answer that can be implemented quickly. We will talk more about training options in a separate article in this series, but if you wish to start now, you can find more information here! Before jumping into any one of these components, you should coordinate with key personnel within your organization to discuss expectations and what will be required to reach competency for each category. This kick-off meeting is your step one for accomplishing this Workplace Violence Program resolution.
Create your Safety Team
Who should participate in this kick-off meeting? You will want key people who represent all departments that will be involved in the three pillars of this program. This generally works out to be your Human Resource Manager, Facilities Manager, Risk Manager, Training Manager, Head of IT Department, Executive Leaders (CEO, CFO, COO as applicable), and any other relevant department leaders. Each of these people will bring specific perspectives, concerns, wishes, and ideas to the table that will be invaluable throughout the process. It is important to recognize upfront that you will likely be unable to satisfy each person’s wish-list when it comes to implementing a new program like this. You will have to work together as a team to develop the best solution to address your safety risks in a manner congruent with your company culture. This group of people will form your organization’s Safety Team, which is important to have established for efficient roll-out of future aspects of your program and proper maintenance and updates beyond year one.
Plan It Out
This meeting, or series of meetings, will lay the foundation for how to proceed with creating and implementing your Workplace Violence Program. One of the primary decisions to make is the order in which you will roll-out the new pieces of the program, so that you use your development time efficiently and ensure that each new component will be ready to go on the determined timeline. One option for helping decide the best order is to employ a third-party professional to perform a site security audit of your facility. Interview your third-party vendors to ensure they will provide you with your desired action items. For example, when Trident Shield performs a site assessment, you will receive prioritized recommendations to solve the areas of weakness in your current systems, including all three pillars of your Workplace Violence Program. This will help to provide a starting point for your development and implementation efforts. In your internal meeting, discuss and determine whether you wish to utilize this type of service and assign someone the responsibility of researching and hiring a vendor if that is the route you choose.
Assess Your Budget
A second point of discussion is to determine the available budget for this project. If this is a new company resolution, it is very likely that it was not accounted for in your 2019 budget planning, so it is important to assess on the front end whether there will be available funds to start this project and if so, how much. Equally important is to determine if there is not going to be money for this project this year. More than once, we have worked with a company representative to develop a proposal that fit all their needs, only for them to find out in the eleventh hour that their company cannot pay for it until the following year. That is significant lost time for your company to get so far in a plan that will not get off the ground in the near future. That being said, if it is decided that the roll-out of this project cannot begin until next fiscal year, you still can perform research to have a better idea of what third-party services you will want to utilize, so that you can submit an accurate budget request for next cycle.
It is important to realize that a fully executed workplace violence program will not be a cheap endeavor, especially if you are going to be investing in physical infrastructure. However, there should always be a range of solutions for each pillar of the program, so that you can develop a system that addresses your risks while staying in your budget. Be aware that you may need to make some sacrifices from your ultimate wish-list or look at this project as a multi-year roll-out that will spread out the financial impact on your company. When rolling out your program incrementally, it is very important to be thoughtful about what components you add first and that those components will truly solve your problem. For example, we worked with one organization that started with a very expensive lock system that would secure all doors within seconds by the push of a button. However, they had not thought through the fact that those doors were glass and could easily be shot out as soon as an intruder reached the resistance of the locked door. By not appreciating the full picture and considering the need for accompanying security measures for the glass, they essentially wasted that money on an impartial fix. In a case like this, where money may not allow for more than one solution at a time, we recommend starting with the training portion of your program, as training is an answer that does not rely on any hardware to work and will be with your employees no matter where they are. You will learn more about the considerations for your training program in the third article of this series.
The following articles in this series will provide you with more actionable details on each of the three main pillars of your Workplace Violence Program: Policies and Procedures, Training, and Security Infrastructure. As you develop a better understanding of the scope of each category, discuss the details with your new Safety Team and assign someone with the responsibility of researching or completing each new task. Again, make sure you begin this project with a big-picture look at your end goals and the steps it will take to achieve them. If you need any additional guidance on how to start or wish to learn more about our unique services, we would be honored to help you achieve this noble New Year’s Resolution. You can learn more on our website or email us directly.