Decrease Workplace Violence with “Mindful Observing”

March 13, 2014
Worried about workplace violence in your facility? Researchers have discovered that “mindfully observing” high-risk employees can avert danger and workplace violence.

Worried about workplace violence in your facility? Researchers have discovered that “mindfully observing” high-risk employees can avert danger and workplace violence.

Through analyzing FBI reports, two University of Texas at Arlington professors discovered that 1 to 2% of employees are prone to workplaces acts of aggression, such as homicide, suicide, or property destruction.

The team suggests that human resource professionals and supervisors identify and manage these high-risk employees by anticipating their needs as well as providing support and resources.

"The cause of these problems are understandable and predictable," says James Campbell Quick, one of the co-authors of the paper. "And many times these violent incidents shouldn't be viewed as random or surprises."

Researchers examined positive and negative deviant behaviors among employees. Positive deviant acts will often benefit the organization, for example going out of one's way to help another. Conversely, negative deviant acts will likely have an adverse impact on the organization and have the potential to put the organization or others in danger.

The study noted that the low intense negative deviant act of incivility is often the starting point of the escalation to more dangerous and violent behavior. Researchers say it is imperative for organizations to keep the employee talking about what it is that bothers them.

The study outlines a four-step approach if the worse should happen:

  • Contain the perpetrator or problem.
  • Provide physical and mental caregiving for victims of the incident.
  • Encourage forgiveness of the dangerous employee. Forgiveness is not condoning, excusing, denying, minimizing, or forgetting a wrong.
  • Learning from the dangerous employee's incident.

The paper, "No Accident: Health, Wellbeing, Performance … and Danger," is published by the Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance.

Learn more about strategies to increase workplace homicides and how to prepare for shelter in place scenarios.  

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