What triggers on-the-job violence? The top reasons: personality conflicts, work-related stress, family or marital problems, mental illness, firings, and drug and alcohol abuse.
An AmericanAssociation survey found that the most violent incidents occurring on the job involve (in order):
1. Employee and employee.
2. Employee and supervisor.
3. Customer and employee.
4. Employee and spouse/significant other.
Also, lawsuits surrounding workplace violence are rising. Legal action often centers on negligent-hiring and negligent-supervision issues.
So, what can you do? If you tolerate negative behaviors among the employees you supervise, or display those behaviors yourself, you can contribute to an unsafe work environment. That's why it's best to:
1. Address misconduct right away. Allowing aggressive or inappropriate conduct without taking action can foster a workplace in which employees feel harassed or intimidated. Notify HR with questions or concerns about discipline or potentially explosive situations.
2. Provide clear rationale for decisions. Making employee-related decisions without employee input or explanation can lead to frustrated employees who don't feel valued as anything but "worker bees."
3. Treat employees fairly and equitably, and apply rules consistently. If you are inconsistent or unpredictable, your employees will be unsure of your expectations and become frustrated. Communicate clear standards of performance and behaviors, then set a good example yourself.
4. Provide feedback throughout the year. Saving up all your critiques forcan intensify anger and spark violence.
5. Get to know your employees, but keep it professional. Remember that engaging in relationships with employees that are too personal or too informal may lead to misunderstandings, as well as to other employees feeling alienated.