Newsletters

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

4/19/2007 - When I stepped on to the campus at Virginia Tech, ‘way back in September of 1962, I began a love affair with the University that has continued to this day and that has burned ever brighter with the ensuing years. I have always loved Virginia Tech and remain connected with her in many ways – the Corps of Cadets, the English Department, our athletic teams and our fraternity alumni association. She is, after all, Alma Mater.

The horrific, senseless and inexplicable tragedy that has befallen her is unspeakably painful on many different levels and for many different people, but for those of us who have loved her so dearly and for so long, there is a deep grief and abiding sadness, very much like what one feels at the death of a beloved family member.

Those who love her are heart broken. But . . . John Dryden tells us in his poem,

“Fight on, my merry men all I'm a little wounded, but I am not slain; I will lay me down for to bleed a while, Then I'll rise and fight with you again.”

During the convocation on the day following the tragedy, Professor Nikki Giovanni, Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech, magnificence personified, touched the soul and heart of the Hokie Nation. “We will prevail,” she declared three times, “We are Virginia Tech.” You can read the entire poem at http://www.english.vt.edu/. It is worthwhile.

As we try to make sense out of senselessness and as we consider the implications of this tragedy for other institutions in our country, we wonder if it could happen again. We hope, we pray, that it will not, but we know we live in a society where violence is all around us, in video games, movies, popular music, so-called “graphic novels” and many other sources. This is a problem. Part of this may be the price of living in a free society, but part of it is individual moral responsibility, also.

For the past several years, we have noted increasing levels of workplace violence and Seay Management Consultants has offered a variety of recommendations aimed at helping employers avoid it. In the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, it may be important to place renewed emphasis on safety and security at work. Here are some recommendations to consider:

1. Recognize that we live in a society where violence is manifested in many ways. Therefore, since the workplace mirrors society, we recognize the increased possibility that we may see violent behavior at work.

2. We recommend the establishment of a Safety and Security Committee, charged with the mission of doing everything possible to provide a safe and secure workplace, and of developing Action Plans to be immediately effective, in the event of a crisis. In our opinion, a Safety and Security Committee now becomes one of the most vital and critical committees for any institution.

3. We recommend that you develop, implement and publish a “Zero Tolerance” policy for violence at work.

4. Fourth, we recommend that you develop, implement and publish a policy that absolutely prohibits weapons at work or on company property, whether in lockers, private vehicles parked on company property or on the employee’s person.

5. Conduct thorough background checks for all new employees, prior to hiring. These checks should include (a) previous employers, (b) criminal records (local, state and federal), (c) credit checks, for those positions that handle money or items of value, and (d) drivers records, for those who drive.

6. Be aware of and sensitive to employees who are behaving in ways that are out of the norm, and take appropriate action, such as reporting this to the proper authorities.

7. Train your managers and supervisors in how to recognize unusual behavior and how to handle violent situations.

8. Establish security measures to utilize during dismissals, including preparing for potential violent behavior, having at least two persons present during the dismissal and escorting dismissed employees from the premises.

9. Consider implementing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). We consider an EAP to be one of the most effective and highly appreciated of employee benefits. An EAP provides employees with professional advice, counsel and assistance in handling stress and personal problems, on a confidential and personal basis. You can imagine how helpful this would be in a crisis situation.

At Seay Management, we’ll be glad to help you develop and implement these policies and procedures. Call any one of us here at the office or call your assigned Seay Management consultant. We have your best interests at heart, we are anxious to help and we appreciate having you as a client of our firm. Our mission has always been to “help management employ a satisfied, happy and productive work force” – we now add, “and one that is safe and secure.”

And if, in your prayers tonight, you could offer up a word for Virginia Tech, a whole lot of Hokies would be truly grateful.



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