Healthcare and Medicine Reference
In-Depth Information
If an employee displays a significant change in behavior or suddenly
becomes hostile, it is important to find out why the change has occurred.
A referral for counseling may determine the cause of the problem, and
treatment may reduce the risk that symptoms will turn into workplace
violence. Employees who are acutely unhappy and blame others for their
problems may be at risk for workplace violence. Generally, the difference
between chronic unhappiness and risk of violence occurs when an
employee makes threatening comments or actually physically confronts
another employee. Should this happen, an evaluation of potential violence
must be made with a referral to a mental health professional. Mental
health professionals may be helpful in determining potential for danger
and should be used when signs of possible violence are noted.
VIOLENCE THREAT LEVELS
Workplace threats need to be taken seriously. Organizations should have
written policies outlining the procedures for reporting all threats of violence.
Those procedures should also describe the actions that will be taken in cases
of workplace violence. Threatened employees have a right to know what an
organization will do to protect them and what measures they need to take to
protect themselves. Since it is impossible to know, with any certainty,
whether a threat is going to be carried out, the organization should always
treat threats in a serious manner and act as though the person may carry out
the threat. Glicken and Ino (1997) describe the progression in the develop-
ment of violent behavior in the workplace as follows.
Level 1. A preoccupation with the feeling that the worker has been
mistreated and a tendency to blame others for his/her lack of success on
the job and to obsessively complain about how badly he/she has been
treated by someone specific or by unspecified others in the workplace. At
this stage, the problem should be evaluated and an attempt should be
made to try to resolve the concerns the worker has openly shared with
others. If the worker's concerns are voiced irrationally or if illogical, they
should be seen as problematic and needing to be dealt with in a proactive
way by encouraging counseling or by trying to help the worker develop a
more accurate perception of the problem. Employee assistance programs
or mediators can help at this early point. If the worker is unwilling to
become involved in counseling, mediation, or some other form of dispute
resolution, the worker needs to be clearly told about the organization's
“no-tolerance for violence” rules. There must also be an agreement from
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