Workplace violence is one of the major causes of death in the corporate world, second only to transportation. This growing issue can have very damaging effects on morale, reputation, and revenue; making it something businesses have to address now.
We wake up, get dressed, maybe grab a cup of coffee and rush out the door to go to work most days. We try to be nice and say good morning to our co-workers and ask how people’s weekends were on Mondays and we tell ourselves that it’s enough. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even come close to cutting it and this is why we often hear that people ‘never saw it coming.’
The truth is that we’re not investing enough in our employees and organizations are not taking workplace violence seriously. We are still thinking that this will never happen at our company and we’re continuing with business as usual.
68% of employees are disengaged, which should shed light on the potential mass ineffectiveness of our leadership teams and human resources departments.
The focus on serial killer Ted Bundy has come to the surface again due to Netflix specials on the infamous killer coming out in 2019. The details of not only the murders but the man are deeply disturbing. According to the A&E Network, Psychologist Al Carlisle was part of the diagnostic team at the prison whose job was to evaluate whether Bundy had a violent personality and was likely to commit acts of violence. The most interesting observation that Dr. Carlisle had about people who commit violent crimes was the attachment between violent crimes and loneliness.
If early in life a person is lonely and doesn’t fit in and is empty, they begin to look for some way to undo that, to satisfy their loneliness. And they turn to fantasy to comfort themselves. This is what happened with Bundy.
Dr. Al Carlisle
Now, this isn’t to say that anyone who is lonely will commit mass murder but it did cause me to reflect on the people in my professional community that struggled with issues, were quiet, and possibly were lonely. I was shocked by just this simple self-analysis and instantly could identify many people in my community that I should personally reach out to.
Organizations have to be more agile and proactive in making sure that members of their organization are not victimized by workplace violence, harassment or bullying of any kind. The first step is to create a Workplace Violence Manifesto (WVM) that outlines policies, procedures, resources, initiatives and even programs to create a holistic work environment. Your WVM could look something like this.
Our Workplace Violence Manifesto
In this time in American history where workplace violence and harassment is on the rise, our organizational community will not stand for violence, harassment, bullying, hatred or bigotry of any kind in our organization. The following methods, policies, and philosophies will help us govern our organization in an effort to prevent workplace violence. We will iteratively review our policies, processes, rules, and regulations in order to ensure that our employees’ health, wellness, and integrity is kept intact throughout our business maneuvers.
Peer-to-Peer Leadership: All of us have the power to hold each other responsible for our actions regardless of rank, position or status. All of us can reach out to one another if they feel that someone may be struggling. All of us have permission to call out bad behavior. Leaders in our organization will be and should be involved in any and all disputes at all times. No one should be considered an outsider in our community.
One-on-One Coaching: Leaders in our organization will be trained and supported in order to make sure to engage with direct reports frequently to discuss both personal and professional goals in an authentic manner that connects and engages every member of our workforce.
Focus on Wellness: Wellness is to be promoted through a variety of consistent monthly programs and initiatives that are tailored to our community because we understand that one size does not fit all.
Work/Life Balance: We will achieve great things as an organization in a balanced and holistic way that honors humanity, the world and those that we hold dear in a holistic way.
Demonstrate Engagement: Our leaders will demonstrate engagement and consistently collect feedback from our community in order to enhance the effectiveness of our policies, initiatives, programs, and activities. We will actively work with disengaged employees in order to overcome obstacles and reengage them with their teams and the organization’s mission.
Redefine Success: Success is not something that will be achieved at any cost. We will cultivate a ‘we not me’ attitude in all that we do. We consider happiness to be collective and not individual.
Maintain Integrity When Moving on: Any employee that does have to exit our organization will be treated with the utmost respect and care in order for the process to be performed in a manner that upholds the employees mental and financial integrity.
Developing your organization’s manifesto creates alignment and awareness right away. The next step would be to create a task force to monitor and implement policies, programs, resources, initiatives and training in all of the areas mentioned in your manifesto.
Demonstrating authentic care and professional engagement in the workplace might just be what’s needed to wipe out workplace violence. This should give all of us hope.