Workplace violence can range from insubordination to acts of physical aggression that harms people and property. A frustrated employee may deal with perceived workplace injustice using violence when they feel it is the only way out.
Are there patterns or factors associated with violence in the workplace? Yes!
Experts agree that there are signs, things one can see and hear that point to a need to give strict attention to preventive measures.
Individuals that seek to avenge their feelings of injustice always give off warning signs . It is rare that someone just snaps into destructive behavior. Violence usually erupts when the employee is convinced that no other solution is available.
An employee who is emotionally upset at work is three times more likely to commit violence if they are using drugs or alcohol. Most importantly, a history of violence (domestic or workplace) is a good predictor of a person’s likelihood to resort to future violence to deal with stress.
Here are some markers of a potentially violent employee taken from Marianne Minor’s book Preventing Workplace Violence. She recommends that if a person hits at least three of the following markers, one should take definitive steps to monitor and contain them:
- Frequent absenteeism
- Angry outbursts
- Sullen withdrawal
- Substance abuse
- Extreme disorganization
- Serious family problems
- Serious financial problems
- Ominous threats
- Intimidation of others
- Romantic obsession/stalking
- History of violent behavior before or after current employment
- Obsessive involvement with job, with few outside interests
- Discussion of weapons or carrying of concealed weapon
- Increased frequency or intensity of above behaviors
Minor, M. (1995). Preventing workplace violence: Positive management strategies. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications.
Miller, L. (2008). From difficult to disturbed: Understanding and managing dysfunctional employees. New York: AMACOM/American Management Association.