Employee violence continues to plague American workplaces. Just a few months ago, a fired utility company worker shot his way into his supervisor’s office and killed himself there.
The employee had been fired earlier that day after working for the company for 28 years. In this incident the employee turned his gun on himself. Usually it’s a supervisor and co-workers who are gunned down.
How do you know when an employee will resort to violence? You can never be sure, but you should always keep your eyes open for signs.
“People rarely commit a violent act ‘just out of the blue,’ and people don’t ‘just snap,’ says the Santa Clara County (California) Domestic Violence Council.
“A violent act is almost always preceded by a number of warning signs or changes in behavior.” As the council says, “a troubled employee becomes a troubling employee,” to the point where co-workers become afraid of this person.
Here’s an abbreviated list of possible warning signs developed by the council:
Use caution and good judgment in evaluating troubling employee behavior. Even if an employee displays one or more of these signs, it doesn’t meant that he or she will necessarily become violent.
Some of these signs may be symptoms of other problems—emotional, financial, family, or personal.
Always use good judgment when evaluating the behavior of others. Try to talk to the employee before things get out of hand. If that fails, consult with mental health experts from your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or an outside healthcare resource.
But whatever you do, don’t wait for violence to erupt before you act.
Why it Matters: