Part 3: HR Intervening with a Potentially Violent Employee

Previous articles in this series: Part 1:HR Principles Guiding Workplace Violence Prevention; Part 2: HR Steps to Preventing Workplace Violence

Making the plan

After reviewing an employee’s history, behavior and disclosures, a comprehensive plan for intervening must be developed. It is useful to consider past interventions with this employee as information on how this one will progress.  Review company policies that might apply to this situation and always maintain a respectful and firm posture toward the employee.  The employee who takes the central role in delivering the “bad news” should be a seasoned person with experience in these kind of difficult employee discussions.  It should be someone who is not afraid to set clear boundaries during the discussion and will know when to put a stop to discussions altogether.  A skilled individual can keep a discussion de-escalated and more successful overall.

The reader is cautioned to remember that every intervention must be custom-designed. Only those closest to the discussions know the best course of action.  These general steps may help in your planning:

  • Objectively assess the employee,s background, work history and safety risks
  • Consult an expert or attorney on legal process to ensure the company obligations and employee rights are protected;
  • Create plan for handling the performance conference – location, timing, personnel involved;
  • Ask the authorities and/or security to review the plan and provide feedback;
  • Create a detail schedule of events;
  • Prepare the financials for the employee’s last pay if termination is warranted;
  • Plan out each person’s role in the intervention including the talking points of what is to be conveyed;
  • Consider letting coworkers know that you will be meeting with the potentially dangerous employee or notify them directly after, if warranted;
  • Carefully consider where the employee will go directly after the intervention – escort to locker and off the premises, etc;
  • Provide instructions if the employee is not allowed to contact various employees and inform the employee of who he/she should contact if questions arise post termination;
  • Implement the plan;
  • Follow up with authorities if the employee makes either vague or specific threats to company personnel;
  • Follow up with peers and other workers who might be affected by this employee’s actions or the company intervention;
  • Provide co-workers and supervisors with instructions on what to do if threatened or contacted;
  • Review company security procedures and refresh employee understanding if appropriate.

As always, review and evaluate the intervention outcome, considering what worked well, what did not go well and potential changes to company policies.

Good luck!

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