According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 2 million employees are victims of workplace violence each year. An even more startling statistic is that between January 2009 and July 2015, there were 133 mass shootings in the workplace. No wonder violence in the workplace has become a top security concern for all employers.
While there isn’t a federal law preventing workplace violence, OSHA requires a company to provide employees a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” This is a lot easier said than done now that technology has expanded our work environments to places outside of our physical office buildings. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that we are seeing an increase in workplace violence as well as insider threats-after all, when we fail to detect and control internal threats we are not only jeopardizing our brand but also the lives of those who work with us and for us.
As an employer, you could be held liable for negligent hiring or for failing to conduct a basic background check. You could also find yourself in hot water for not establishing or implementing a zero tolerance policy for those who use the workplace-and work issued tools such as computers and cellphones-for harming others. This would include threatening, stalking or harassing anyone at or outside of the workplace.
Preventing insider threats is one of the best ways to protect your employees and yourself from workplace violence. Here are just a few things you should be doing:
Don’t Skimp on Background Checks
Be sure to have a standard screening policy that includes what checks should be performed for each position as well as what information you need to gather such as previous employment and criminal background checks. Always look for inconsistencies between information and documents and address the issue immediately. I also recommend expanding your background check policies to include a repeat screening-just because an employee has a clean record on the first day of their employment does mean the record will stay clean.
Monitor Online Actions of Employees
If you do not currently have a system in place for monitoring the online actions of employees, you need to create one. This type of system will allow you to discover suspicious actions before they become more serious. Monitor your employees online and always consult with your legal team.
Have an Employee Exit Plan
As soon as an employee has left the company, be sure to not only collect any technology he or she may have been using but immediately prohibit access to servers, networks, and content, even if that means immediately disabling accounts.
Companies must prepare for workplace violence the same way they prepare for insider threats-by taking the steps needed to prevent these situations from occurring. A little planning can go a long way towards keeping your business safe.