Stress can affect people in different ways. In extreme cases, workers have reacted to life’s difficulties in violent ways. Workplace violence can occur, such as the office shooting in Manchester, Conn., that left nine people dead. Managers need to look for warning signs or sudden changes in an employee’s behavior to maintain a safe and healthy office atmosphere.
Mimi Lanfranchi, senior vice president for AlliedBarton Security Services, recommends that managers address unusual behavior. It could be as simple as having a conversation with the worker to see if he or she is going through a difficult time.
In order to keep a safe workplace environment, employers should provide an encouraging and timely response to the certain worker. Ask and be interested in helping address the employee’s concerns or issues. Co-workers need to approach the manager if they are concerned about a fellow colleague.
If a hard-working and loyal employee suddenly starts to develop one or more of these warning signs, he or she most likely needs some assistance:
— Extreme tardiness and absences: A dedicated worker starts making excuses to leave the office early or vacates without permission.
— More supervision: Usually, a worker requires less supervision as he or she becomes more familiar with tasks. If an employee suddenly seeks increased attention, it could be a cry for help.
— Decrease in productivity: An efficient worker has an unexpected drop in performance.
— Strained working relationships: A worker starts to become disruptive with co-workers.
— Unable to concentrate: A worker is most likely worried about something else.
— Changes in health or hygiene: A worker starts to pay less attention to his or her appearance and well-being.
— Fascination with weapons: Hopefully, colleagues will be able to see this warning sign.
— Substance abuse: A worker is probably using drugs or alcohol to cope with an issue.
— Depression and stress: Companies should offer programs to get a worker the proper help.
“Developing workplace violence plans and policies is becoming more of a need these days and more of a priority, and companies are starting to focus on it,” says Lanfranchi.
Teach management as well as staff members about potential behavioral warning signs. Lanfranchi recommends developing a company motto like, “if you see something, say something.”