Workplace violence is on the rise—here’s how training can keep your teams safe

Posted on: August 29, 2022Updated on: July 10, 2024By: Maliyah Bernard

In Canada, one in five workers say they’ve experienced increased aggression or conflict at work in the past month. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) administered by the US Census Bureau points to the same trend: about 1.5 million workplace assaults occur every year—and those are only the incidents that were reported.

Violence in the workplace is a major issue for millions of employees in many sectors. And unfortunately it’s reaching new heights.

Associates shouldn’t have to fear for their lives when they go into work. But with heightened anxiety about post-pandemic life, widening gaps between social classes, continued civil unrest and active shooter situations, tensions are boiling over in grocery lines and retail checkouts. A proper plan—that includes de-escalation training, safety measures and how to minimize injury and loss—can help employees know how to carefully handle a violent situation if and when it arises.

Shattered Glass

Develop a strategic and accessible plan

Knowing the traits and characteristics of workplace violence, like how it can start, who’s at risk, what good work practices look like and who to report incidents to, is a necessary first step to protecting yourself and your team.

But according to a new study by LifeWorks, 34% of Canadians say their organization doesn’t provide training, coaching or support to help deal with workplace conflict and/or aggression—a huge, missed opportunity by leaders to prepare their teams.

Here are three steps you can take to safeguard your organization:

  1. Devise a plan: Make sure you have a well-developed workplace violence prevention and response plan in place before it’s needed. The plan should be clear on reporting procedures, who is responsible for coordinating the response, how the team will be trained and what actions to take if there’s an incident. Axonify’s Content Marketplace covers topics like what to do during a robbery to minimize the potential for injury and property loss, guidelines for responding to an active shooter event, what to do when first responders arrive and more relevant topics to help you get started.
  2. Share the plan widely: The more employees who know about your company’s workplace violence prevention and response policies and procedures, the better. That means making sure that all employees have access to the necessary materials so it’s available when needed—which might include making it available on personal mobile phones, POS devices or other methods to have it within reach. A digital solution is especially handy if you need to communicate procedures and training across multiple locations.
  3. Create a safe space for open dialogue: Encourage associates and contractors to speak up when they see something suspicious or notice warning signs while at work so they’ll feel comfortable and confident about notifying someone. Motivating staff to have a sense of awareness of their surroundings and fostering open communication will help employees to spot violence before it occurs.

It’s important to remember that employee training and strategic plans won’t stop workplace violence but can help teams feel prepared if confronted by a threatening situation and hopefully mitigate damages and injury. Ensure your organization is dedicated to creating a safe and equitable work environment for all by having a solid plan in place so that everyone knows how to respond in an emergency scenario.

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Maliyah Bernard

Maliyah Bernard is an academic writer turned content writer. As a former frontline worker, she loves writing about all the ways organizations can support these essential workers smarter.

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