April 4th, 2012 10:44 EST
'Going Postal' in America
Dealing w/Tensions in the Workplace on the Heels of the Oakland School Shooting
This week`s deadly mass shooting spree at Oikos University, a Korean Christian school in Oakland, CA, is one of a string of tragic shootings in the last couple of months that remind us just how dangerous going to work and school can be.
This latest incident coupled with the shooting of a Jacksonville private school Headmistress by a terminated teacher along with the February 16th shooting of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) supervisor by one of his fellow agents all serve as reminders of just how serious workplace violence can be.
These unfortunate incidents conger up memories of the infamous 1986 shootings at the Edmond, Oklahoma post office where 14 postal workers were shot dead by a troubled colleague facing dismissal. Henceforth the phrase "going postal" became part of the American lexicon.
The unfortunate reality is workplace violence is a serious problem in this country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 600 people a year are victims of workplace homicide. Ironically, just a day before the ICE shooting in LA (February 15th), findings from the Violence in the American Workplacesurvey found that 52% of workers have in some way "experienced a violent event or an event that can lead to violence at their workplace."
The survey alsofound that 34% of adults are concerned for their personal safety at work. In addition, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 15% of nonfatal violence in the U.S. occurs at work. As recently as 2009, homicide was the number one cause of death for woman on the job!
What`s more, according to the National Institute for Prevention of Workplace Violence the fallout from workplace violence costs employers roughly $121 billion a year!
Organizational Psychologist and author of The YOU Plan, Michael "Dr. Woody" Woodward, PhD will share some facts and solutions for dealing with Workplace violence:
-Asses the Climate: In many of these situations there are witnesses who say they saw it coming... yet no one raised the flag! If you don`t have your finger on the pulse of your team, colleagues and classmates, you are not engaged. Prevention begins with knowledge and awareness of your surroundings. Ask yourself if there have recently been or will be any circumstances or events that may heighten sensitivities. Everyone reacts to stress differently, so it`s important that you pay attention to unusual changes in behavior patterns. Dr. Woody will discuss ways for paying attention to increased or unusual incidents of: outbursts, belligerence, threats, or changes in appearance or attitude that seem inconsistent with what you know about the individual.
-Establish Dialogue: A lot of violence at work comes from frustration. Anyone who has ever had to deal with poor customer service has experienced heightened frustration. The key to dealing with frustration in a positive way is having the right kind of outlet. Dr. Woody is a firm believer in establishing a culture where open dialogue is the norm. Having an appropriate outlet to vent the mental and physical effects of frustration can prevent the kind of festering and negative self-talk that can ultimately lead to violent outbursts.
-Put Together a Plan: Nearly every major agency that deals with workplace violence recommends putting together both a prevention strategy and a plan for dealing with incidents. Dr. Woody will discuss some of the common elements of these plans and how both employers and employees can be more proactive in creating a safer workplace.
- Mike "Dr. Woody" Woodward, PhD
President, Human Capital Integrated, LLC
Judyth Piazza chats with Michael `Dr. Woody` Woodward, PhD ...