A tragic sequence of events unfolded on Thursday morning in Chicago’s Loop area as a longtime employee, who found out he was demoted last week amidst company downsizings, opened fire, critically injuring the CEO and then taking his own life. News outlets are reporting that the demoted executive-turned-gunman requested a one-on-one meeting with the CEO — with whom he was allegedly friends for years — during which time the incident occurred.
Below is a picture outside the office building in the Loop, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.
While the case hits close to home because the office building is a few blocks away from where I work, this unfortunately isn’t an isolated incident.
In 2012 SHRM reported that more than 1 in 3 (36 percent) of organizations have cited incidents of workplace violence.
What is workplace violence, exactly?
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration defines workplace violence as follows:
Workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, one of the leading causes of job-related deaths. However it manifests itself, workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees nationwide.
Workplace violence and you
In case you’re reading this and thinking: “Hmm…this is interesting, but what does this have to do with me?” you may be interested to know that the bulk (83 percent, to be exact) of workplace violence threats are reported to HR or the function head and more than 2 in 3 (68 percent) threats are funneled up to the employee’s direct supervisor, according to a 2012 SHRM report. So this is very much an HR as well as a management issue.
The question is: What should you do about it? The same SHRM report indicates that some of the most common responses to workplace violence threats are to have a zero-tolerance policy or immediate termination, to issue a written warning to the employee in question and to suspend the individual.
In some instances counseling or anger management may be the appropriate intervention to workplace violence threats, as was reported by some respondents of the SHRM survey.
But the one thing you should never do — as an employer, manager, HR professional or even just a fellow employee — is to let instances of workplace violence, however insignificant or egregious, go unnoticed and unreported.
Tell us what you think in the comments below or tweet us at @CBforEmployers: What steps does your organization take to protect against violence in the workplace? Have you ever had to deal with a situation that could have escalated into such an incident?
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