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of a need for residential treatment. Just as employers give workers time to
mend after an illness or surgery, employers need to give workers time to
mend when they have emotional problems.
Robinson (1996) believes that training is a “critical” component of
any prevention strategy since it permits employees to become acquainted
with experts within the agency who can help them when potentially vio-
lent situations arise. Robinson suggests further that, “employees and
supervisors seek assistance at a much earlier stage when they personally
know the agency officials who can help them” (p. 6).
Other forms of prevention suggested by Robinson (1996) and others
include a confidential background check on new employees, which at the
very least would include a check on the applicant's criminal, credit, and
employment history and driving records. Once an applicant is hired, it is
important to track and record observable and relevant changes in behavior
and take the proper steps toward intervention. Most experts suggest a
“zero tolerance” for threats, intimidation, and any act of violence, which
should be included in the personal policies of all organizations with
assigned personnel to investigate all threats or acts of violence. This might
be similar to the way many organizations handle complaints of sexual
harassment. Ongoing training and education and easy access to grievance
procedures are also important aspects in preventing violence.
Some organizations use ombudsman programs, facilitation, mediation,
and other methods of dispute resolution to identify and prevent potential
workplace violence. These strategies are often most useful before the
threat of violence becomes serious enough to require a formal workplace
action. The following is a short description of some preventative techni-
ques suggested by Robinson (1996) that organizations have found useful
in dealing with workplace violence problems at their beginning stages.
1. Ombudsmen. Ombudsmen are employed by an organization and use
a variety of strategies to resolve workplace disputes, including counsel-
ing, mediation, conciliation, and fact-finding. An ombudsman may
interview all the parties involved in a dispute, review the history of
the problem and the organization's personnel policies to see if they've
been correctly applied, and might offer suggestions and alternative
ways of resolving the dispute to the workers involved in a disagree-
ment. An ombudsman doesn't “impose” solutions but may offer alter-
native strategies to resolve it. Workers involved in a dispute may refuse
options offered by the ombudsman and are free to pursue other reme-
dies or strategies including legal ones.
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