Do your employees know how to respond to an active shooter situation?

Violence is an unfortunate and disheartening reality in the workplace. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing threats to employee safety. Between 2000 and 2013, 70% of active shooter incidents in the United States occurred in business or educational environments. 

Regardless of where they take place, heavily publicized acts of public violence can create uneasiness – or outright fear – within your workplace. To do their best work, employees must feel safe and supported. Unfortunately, violence is a complicated issue, and training alone cannot solve the problem. But the right preparedness strategy can help employees know how to respond if a violent event does take place. 

Violence preparedness training is already provided in many workplaces. However, it’s often buried within a mountain of topics during the onboarding process. The good news is this is not a subject that employees have to deal with on a regular basis. But this also means the chance of people remembering what they were trained to do weeks, months or years ago is very slim. If the unthinkable were to happen, they could be left unprepared and at greater risk.  

Awareness is essential when it comes to workplace safety

To help people become capable of quickly and confidently responding to a violent situation, topics such as active shooter response must be reinforced consistently and continuously with every employee. Many popular tactics, such as manager talking points or annual retraining, are insufficient. This critical information must be revisited more frequently using real-world scenarios and decision-making activities to make sure the right practices are top of mind and can be applied if and when needed. 

By leveraging continuous, adaptive learning that fits within the employee workflow, your organization can also quickly deploy refresher training in response to a highly publicized event or active threat. This was the case for US retailer Bloomingdale’s when they rapidly deployed active shooter training to their frontline in the days following the Paris terror attacks in 2015. The company was already providing associates with targeted daily training on safety and loss prevention topics via mobile devices and point of sale systems. Within 24 hours of the Paris incident, they were able to deploy high-priority refresher training on active shooter preparedness to all of their associates. This not only provided employees with the information needed to respond to a potential situation, but it also served as a reminder of how important employee and guest safety are for the company. 

Your employees already have plenty of problems to deal with on the job. Violence should not be one of them, but we have to confront the societal reality. We should make every effort to prevent violence from entering our workplaces. We should engage our public leaders to address the root causes of the issue.

But ultimately, it is also the responsibility of every employer to make sure their people know what to do if an act of violence takes place at work. Modern learning tactics, such as adaptive learning and ongoing reinforcement, can dramatically improve every employee’s sense of preparedness and make sure they remember the critically important information you hope they never need.

For more information on how to design a continuous, targeted approach to workplace learning, check out our Ultimate Guide to Microlearning.

JD is one of the most prolific authors and speakers in workplace learning today. His practical approach integrates science, technology, storytelling and pure common sense to enable employees, improve performance and drive business results. For 20 years, JD has executed strategies for global organizations, including The Walt Disney Company.

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