When Bad Things Happen to Good People – Workplace Violence

Workplace violence has become an all too often occurrence these days. I’m still surprised at the lack of planning for terminations. In many cases, senior management is telling security and HR they are over reacting. Duty of Care requires that you protect people from harm where you know there is a potential risk. If you don’t take adequate steps, you can be found liable. Why is it we plan for meetings, presentations as well as budgets, yet when it comes to terminations it is an after thought? I constantly read quotes such as “he was a really nice guy” or “she was a great worker”. Good people sometimes do bad things when a trigger goes off setting in motion a chain of events. Also, these ‘really great people’ are on social media discussing hurting people, need for revenge, or corporate greed. Past violence is a predictor of future violence. I recently saw a picture online of a man holding a gun with all sorts of ramblings about getting even with a coworker. Scary stuff!

What should you consider prior to terminating an individual?

  1. Complete a threat risk assessment. What are the risks – high, medium and low?
  2. Based on the risks what measures should be considered?
  3. Does the individual have a social media footprint?
  4. Ongoing monitoring of social media. What has been posted online for the last 30 days and what is happening post termination? Social media can be data mined and can paint a clear picture.  We have seen posts on social media such as “I used to have a job and life. Not anymore.” This individual threatened the HR manager and their family a few short hours after this post.
  5. Will security be required? How much? When and where? If you have security are they equipped and trained to deal with workplace violence situations? All guards are not created equal?
  6. Will surveillance be required to track movements following the termination in high-risk scenarios?

These are just a few of the many things to think about. Without taking time to understand the threat, you may find yourself in a risky situation. The costs of not having a plan can be huge.

Jim Rovers

Mr. Rovers has been actively involved in the fields of security, investigations and labour dispute for nearly two decades. With a background in manufacturing engineering, he has assisted many Fortune 500 companies in the development of contingency plans regarding security, transportation and temporary staffing. He has worked extensively throughout Canada and the United States on investigation of theft and narcotic issues in the workplace. Mr. Rovers joined AFIMAC in 2004 as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. A former executive of HRPLD (Human Resource Professionals of London) and he is a member of ASIS, the American Society of Industrial Security. Mr. Rovers is in the process of completing his CHRP (Canadian Human Resources Professional) accreditation.

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