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Workplace Violence Prevention a Training Management Commitment

October 1, 2010
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Like the requirement to review technological needs against current and future applications, so must companies review and assess current training methodologies and objectives in addressing Workplace Violence Prevention and Security Awareness. Preventing and mitigating the threat of workplace violence requires multiple intervention strategies of which training plays a significant role. Companies are better off when they understand that preventing workplace violence is not crisis or threat management, conflict management or emergency preparedness, it is prevention. “Tiered Training” has the potential value of negating existing gaps in understanding and performance by customizing the content and the audience to suit the training objective.

Workplace violence prevention is an ongoing continuous process towards correcting contributing factors, evaluating potential threats and mitigating risks. An organization’s workplace violence prevention program should address threats posed by employee-on-employee, vendors, contractors, external threats away from the workplace, domestic violence spillover into the workplace and active shooter protocols. Training can move organizations toward a seamless understanding between content objectives and appropriate response. Effective programs have C-suite support through a written corporate policy statement of commitment creating a culture that avoids violence at all levels through proactive measures, of which training plays an important part. Moving away from old paradigms of issuing zero tolerance policy statements that aren’t consistently enforced or complaints that are not aggressively investigated compromises and invalidates the policy’s intent. The problem with this inconsistency in managing workplace violence prevention is that it leaves the organization open to scrutiny for failing to follow its own policy. “Tiered Training” can be an approach to help bridge the inconsistency void by addressing the gaps in misunderstanding. Centralizing the objectives but decentralizing the delivery to workplace specific situations and needs can do this.

“Tiered Training” is the process of learning and understanding that safety and security require approaches that integrate theory and practical exercises in simulating reality. Adult learners need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it, thus enhancing the retention process. Clearly stated objectives begin the process of acceptance and retention. Therefore, training that is “interactive and performance oriented” tends to yield long-term retention when tied to specific actions, expectations and outcomes. Since we are seeking retention and application of the content, “Tiered Training” seems to be an attractive methodology that helps train employees to see the connection between the theories and the practical expectations. “Interaction and Performance-Oriented Training” can include discussion groups, role-playing and simulations.

At times, workplace violence prevention training is unintentionally remiss in defining the distinctions between the internal and external threats, in addressing the threat posed by domestic and relationship and intruder violence protocols. The CSO and Human Resource Director with C-Suite commitment and support might consider revisiting traditional workplace violence prevention and domestic violence training content that addresses proactive risk mitigation and violence interdiction tactics.

Companies that consider and implement thoughtful worker safety and security programs in interdicting workplace violence are moving in a responsive direction toward minimizing the act of violence while “avoiding the cookie cutter mentality.” Considering the value of multiple intervention strategies of which training is a major component can play a critical role in helping to meet the prudent person test of accountability, responsibility and consequences. Investing in workplace specific training programs does not have to be a comprehensive investment in resources or a financial burden. In the cases of the small to midsize businesses, training in collaboration and integration of limited resources can bring lower scale violence interdiction value to these entities. In other words, while we implore companies to have policies in place, depending on the type or size of business and workplace environment comprehensive plans and programs are not essential in bridging the security awareness and execution gap. The goal is sustainable situational awareness and responsible but accountable training management.

What is essential in providing for a safe and secure workplace is the marriage between policies and the employee understanding of expectations and outcomes. Training for the sake of training produces no long-term benefit thus incapable of yielding any measurable return on the investment. “What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them.”* Just like policies must be reviewed as often as possible or when circumstances and situations dictate to avoid the negative impact of policies on other operations, so must training be reviewed and revamped to address specific training objectives against business performance measures to insure changing situations and tactics are met.

Trainers are leaders who must understand and influence the changes and the outcomes. Therefore, leadership plays an important role in training by helping to understand the need, content and audience. Those responsible for training must exhibit technical proficiency in the content and process to maximize the value of training in avoiding allegations of negligence in training. “In as much as theories of leadership are divided: some underscore the primacy of personal qualities; others stress that systems are all-important. Both interpretations are correct.”** The intentional outcome of “Tiered Training” is effective adult learning through the introduction of personal and professional experiences and expertise. Training that emanates from the trainer’s comfort zone extracts the leader’s capability to be an effective trainer using both interpretations.

Therefore, the investment in proper security training for every employee should be the norm. Putting adult employees in a lecture setting, where everybody receives the same content is counterproductive, thus “Tiered Training” affords companies a custom approach that is cost effective and efficient. Training generally becomes counterproductive when employees, supervisors and managers with different roles, functions and responsibilities are exposed to inappropriate and irrelevant content. Studies have shown that adults learn best when they decide for themselves what is important; when they can validate information based on their beliefs and experiences; expect what they experience will have immediate value; they have stated experiences from which they can draw; and have the ability to interact.*** Thus, the training methodology employed is important. Training that fails to take into account that adults learn entirely differently than children fail to see the value in presenting content in a format that asks the proverbial question, “What is in it for me”? Avoiding addressing the “What’s in it for me” might generate a worthless response. This is particularly relative in addressing workplace violence prevention where “avoiding the cookie cutter mentality” to achieve some company mandate will miss the benefit it can yield by delivering specific content tailored to specific audiences and that is “Interactive and Performance oriented”.

“Tiered Training,” by its very design, can deliver “Interactive and Performance Oriented” specific content to specific audiences. For example, non supervisory personnel might receive basic content dealing with the definitions of workplace violence, what constitutes incidents of workplace violence, understanding workplace at risk situations, responsibilities in reporting, impact of exposure, response to threats, consequences and outcomes. While the content for supervisors and managers might include the employee basics in an intermediate approach, employees would not be privy to the content developed for supervisors and managers. The intermediate supervisory and manager training would offer topics dealing with duties and responsibilities in managing potentially hostile workplace environments, responding, processing and handling complaints and incidents, conducting preliminary fact finding assessments, taking corrective action, minimizing the immediate impact, liability and the consequences for failing to take appropriate action. As you can see, the plethora of topics boggles the mind.

Workplace violence prevention training can move to the 21st century by adopting new non-traditional risk mitigation approaches and strategies that tie personnel risk mitigation and physical security measures under one umbrella entitled personnel security. Training that emphasizes the need to respond and react to threats by persons with a gun is an example of a non-traditional workplace violence prevention strategy. Non-traditional approaches might focus on those topics that specifically move an organization toward consolidating content in properly addressing workplace violence prevention. Examples of such training might include:

• Reviewing issued policies on your Workplace Violence Prevention, Domestic Violence, Harassment and Sexual Harassment.
• Discussing employee, supervisor and manager responsibilities in reporting, documenting and investigating complaints.
• Discussing past incidents in increasing security awareness.
• Introducing techniques and tactics in responding to the active shooter.
• Sheltering in Place and Safe Rooms
• Reviewing and integrating emergency evacuation procedures.
• Discussing Access Control and Visitor Management Protocols.
• Integrating the value of technology as a security multiplier.

To truly bridge the learning and retention benefit, CSO’s and Human Resources Directors can ensure accountability and retention by tying the training objectives to certain measurable but specific security standards or metrics. Training that does not have a performance standard or security metrics is not deemed important by employees simply because that which the “boss” checks and pays attention to is what gets done. As such, it becomes an employee’s priorities when training is accountable and measured against a performance standard and specific outcome. Workplace Violence Prevention training in particular can have a measurable impact on business measures of merit simply because it impacts the business generally in the following areas:

• employee performance
• saves money
• increases worker productivity
• involves supervisors and managers in the process of saving time and costs
• improves employee-management
relationships
• improves employee satisfaction and
retention.

Recent findings outline in “A Hackett Benchmarking and Research Report (2009)” shows that companies that spend $218 per employee on training have more than a 16 percent voluntary turnover, while companies that spend over $273 per employee have turnovers of seven percent. Simply put, investment in thoughtful productive security awareness training is a win-win for company and employee alike.

Thus, there is nothing preventing a company from having company driven workplace violence prevention safety and security standards or metrics. Such standards could be tied to employee handbooks and supervisor’s yearly performance evaluations underscoring the theory of what the boss checks and pays attention to gets done. Not tying the benefits of workplace violence prevention training and security awareness to the business measures of merit might be “a penny wise and a pound foolish” in arguing its relative value. As such, measuring the value of security training by applying measurable standards or metrics can add a training value against business measures of merit as is done in evaluating customer-oriented standards. One standard of performance might be to have supervisors and managers to develop actions plans as a part of individual performance goals and objectives.

One such standard or metric approach might be to benchmark where a company’s workplace violence prevention posture is today in terms of vulnerabilities and employee awareness by conducting an employee survey or questionnaire that elicits specific responses showing their perceptions, concerns and situational awareness. A second benchmark would be to conduct a Security Assessment or Workplace Violence Prevention Worksite Specific Vulnerability Assessment designed to evaluate the employer’s capability and ability to provide for a safe and secure workplace. The assessments would measure a company’s current at risk posture and potential to minimize the threat of workplace violence. Such training can be used in developing supervisory and managerial “Tiered Training” objectives. Measuring the training objectives against that the two suggested benchmarks enables senior security and human resources managers to determine if they are getting the desired results. 
From a training management perspective the results could be measured against the benchmarks giving evidence of the value of the training in underscoring the firm’s workplace violence prevention strategy. When discussing training with the C-Suite, the value of training is measured in dollars saved or in dollars earned. 

From a business perspective the business values could be measured in terms of cost avoidance in the following areas, to name a few:

• employee downtime
• time spent on conducting investigations
• employee grievances and complaints
• employee morale
• personnel turnover
• counseling and support services
• performance, production and efficiency
• medical costs
• legal cost
• internal and external image

Judging from recent and past incidents of violent acts, workplace violence prevention is no simple proposition. It is a proactive process that would achieve greater global value if it were incorporated as part of the business and security processes. For example, increased awareness and preparedness might be addressed in the following ways:

• incorporate workplace violence and security awareness in new employee orientations.
• conduct annual employee refresher training.
• include specific measures of merit as part of supervisory and managerial performance evaluations.

Having the stated management commitment drives the imagination in bringing quality workplace specific training. It can be done! The Postal Service is a prime example. In an era when tough talk and catchy rhetoric too often eclipse any real action, some organizations are beginning to understand that an effective workplace violence prevention program is smart business. In the final analysis it is about protecting their most important as set – their employees and to maintain a positive reputation with their customers, shareholders and the media, while minimizing disruptions to normal operations. Companies that take workplace violence seriously, who focus on prevention and understand the importance of implementing a comprehensive workplace violence prevention approach will in the long run come out ahead. 


* Zig Ziglar, success speaker
** Oliver Serrat, Head of the Knowledge Management Center, Regional and Sustainable Development Department, Asian Development Bank
***Adult Learning Styles and Training Methods” John Mihall and Helen Belleti, February 16, 1999



Workplace Violence Interdiction & Security Risk Governance Consulting Model

Crisis Response Plan
First Responders
Employee Relations
Communities
C-Suite Involvement
Media Relations
Crisis Communications
Other Faculties
Legal
Safety
Medical Services
Families
Publics

Favorable Policy Statement Implication
Emergency Management
Crisis Management
Facilities
Security
Human Resource
Incident


Workplace Violence Interdiction & Security Risk Governance Consulting Model

Derived Favorable Policy Statement Values

• Structure Policy and Support Programs Reduce Risk
• Proper Planning & Coordination Improves Response
• Increased Awareness Improves Personnel Security
• Hazard Recognitions Minimizes Employee Risks
• Enhanced Background Screening Features 
• Multiple Functionality of Access Control System
• Enhanced Awareness Improves Morale
• Identification of Vulnerable Building Systems
• Verification of Employee Family Support Issue
• Credible Incident Reporting System


Workplace Violence Interdiction and Security Risk Governance Consulting Policy Implications on Legislations and Regulations

Compliance & Legal Liability
• Sarbanes- Oxley
• Gram-Leach Biley Act
• NFP 1600 & ISOs
• OSHA
• HIPPA
• Workers Comp Insurance.
• Security
• Liability/Premises Ins.
• Corporate Policy
• Emerging Guidelines & Standards
• Vicarious Liability Issues

Legislation & Regulations
• OSHA, General Duty Clause
• Workers Comp
• American with Disabilities Act
• HIPPA
• EEO/Sexual Harassment
• Violence Against Women
• Domestic Violence
• Jury System Improvement Act of 1978


Workplace Violence, Security and Risk Governance Consulting Model Policy Implications on Operations

Facilities Management
• Safety & OSHA compliance
• HVAC Systems
• Infrastructure Assets
• OSHA Supporting Annex to National Command Response Requirements
• Emergency coordination
• Technology

Emergency Management Planning
• Evacuations (Temporary, Relocations & Full)
• Shelter in Place
• Continuity of Operations Planning
• Business Interruption and Business Continuity
• Personnel Accounting Pre-During-Post Incident
• Mail Handling Procedures
• NYC Rule 26 (Emergency Actions Plans Coordinator)

Security
• People, Property & Premises
• Visitor Management
• Access Control
• Security Staffing
• Technology Needs
• Property & Premises Crimes
• VIP & Travel

Crisis Management
• Personnel Accountability
• Media Relations
• Public Info
• First Responders
• Incident Response
• Post Disaster Support
• Recovery

Human Resource Security
• Background screening
• Hiring, Retention, Terminations
• Selections, Training, Assignments & Staffing
• Performance appraisals and promotions
• New Employee Orientations
• EAP Counseling
• Employee Relations
• Safety & Injury Prevention
• Workplace Violence Response Planning and Coordination
• Domestic Violence and Partner Relationships

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