You may have seen the following video that has been floating around the Internet for a few years.
It certainly shows how one employee might have demonstrated some pretty clear "warning signs" that his temper
has gotten out of control!
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It seems pretty comical, but if you were the guy sitting next to this out-of-control employee, you probably wouldn't have thought it was too funny! In reality, this was not a "hidden camera" true incident, but rather a staged one. It's a good illustration, though, of
a clear warning sign that an employee is in a violent mood and should be reported to management as a precaution (not to mention the destroyed office equipment.)
What are some warning signs to watch out for?
As you'll see in the statistics section, 25% of incidences of workplace violence involve current or former employees. Sometimes, these employees show some "warning signs" of trouble before they
commit acts of violence. Sometimes there are no warning signs and co-workers say that they were completely surprised when violence erupts. Of course, it may be that these surprised coworkers may not have been "tuned in" to notice some
more subtle signs of trouble.
So, we'll give you some signs to watch out for. And as you'll learn later in this section, it's good to watch out for certain negative working conditions that can also make workplaces more prone to acts of violence.
You might not see sudden, dramatic changes in employees' behavior that are hard to ignore. As a matter of fact, changes my be more gradual and harder to recognize. The following signs may
be indicators that the employee could become violent. They can also be indicators that the employee needs counseling or other help without leading to violence.
Either way, if you notice some of these changes in a co-worker,
talk to your supervisor about what you have noticed. Your supervisor is receiving further training on what to do and where to get help if a situation arises.
Level One -- The Green Zone May still be okay, but pay attention
Refuses to cooperate with immediate supervisor
Spreads rumors and gossip to harm others
Argues with co-workers frequently
Is short-tempered with clients or customers
Yelling on the phone or behind closed doors
Shows signs of drug or alcohol abuse
Speech is full of swear words
Makes unwanted and inappropriate sexual comments
Negative changes in behavior, performance, appearance, attendance
Difficulty coping with major life change such as: fired, layed off, passed over for promotion, poor performance review, reorganization or uncertain job security, personal
court or bank actions (foreclosure, restraining order, custody hearing, etc.), failed romance or marriage, death in family.
Level Two -- The Yellow Zone May be in trouble, pay close attention
Argues increasingly with customers, vendors, co-workers, management, and clients
Stops obeying basic company policies and rules
Sabotages equipment or steals state property for revenge
Vague threats or references to a plan to "end all of the problems"
Talks about wanting to hurt co-workers or management
Talks about publicized incidences of workplace violence
Sees themselves as victims of management (me against them) and blames them for all problems
Shows a new or increased fascination with weapons
Level Three -- The Red Zone Immediate referral to management and/or call police/security in extreme situations
Repeated threats of suicide
Repeated threats to harm or humiliate co-workers or managers
Repeated fist fights, shoving, destruction of property
Shows weapons or refers to having them close at hand
Talks openly about wanting to hurt co-workers or management
What are some warning signs for organizations?
Studies have also shown that workplace violence often occurs in "unhealthy" organizations. Fortunately, we can do something about this problem!
We'll describe some of the warning signs that make organizations more prone to unhappy employees and possible acts of violence. Then, in the prevention section,
you'll learn more about what you can do to make your organization a healthier one if necessary.
Unhealthy Organizations If your workplace has problems like the following, be sure to pay particular attention
to the "Prevention" section of the library to see how you can help improve your work environment.
Human issues and employee morale seem to be ignored even though management may say that they care about employees.
Supervisors spend most of their time reacting to crises rather than planning for smooth operations.
Too quick to fire employees rather than trying to help them correct problems to succeed.
Poor communication -- line staff never know what to expect or why major decisions are made (feel isolated and ignored).
One-way communication (top down) -- line staff not comfortable expressing their concerns since upward communication is ignored or not encouraged.
Top management never takes the blame for crises -- always placing blame on subordinates.
Difficult employees are ignored or transferred rather than dealt with.
Hiring supervisors are not encouraged to conduct background checks or verify prior work performance or behavioral problems.
Acts of violence, threats, name-calling are ignored.
Treating employees who are laid off or fired without dignity or compassion.
There are more supervisors and managers with an unfair and authoritarian management style than those with a fair, respectful, "teamwork" management style.