Americans across the country are concerned about the levels of crime and safety in their towns and cities. In fact, a recent Gallup survey showed that 40% of Americans have fears about walking alone at night within a mile of their home–the highest since 1993, a year that was plagued by one of the worst crime waves in US history. Between 2022 and 2023–77% of Americans believe that crime is on the rise.  Still, the problem of crime and violence is a very visible issue that spills over into the workplace, affecting HR departments and employees across the country. Between 2021 and 2022, there were more than 57,000 cases of nonfatal workplace assaults and 524 fatalities. In these cases, the most prevalent type of violence was hitting, kicking, beating, or shoving. This creates a challenging and dynamic issue for HR departments, especially in high-crime areas. As a result,  the best defense for workplace crime and violence is creating a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence.

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Navigating The Challenges of Workplace Violence

Since workplace violence is defined as any act of violence that occurs on a worksite, perpetrators can be either employees or strangers. In fact, 47% of reported acts of workplace violence are committed by a stranger. Additionally, workers are most at risk if they work alone and in small numbers, in high crime areas, or at very late or early hours.

Thus, employers and HR departments in high-crime areas are responsible for creating a work environment that is safe and productive for employees to work without fear of violence. Even though there may be differences in how companies approach policies to reduce and prevent workplace violence, the best defense for workplace crime and violence is zero-tolerance policies that extend to employees, customers, clients, contractors, visitors, and any other individuals who may interact with company staff.

Preventing Workplace Violence

Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing workplace violence. Still, there are many strategies that companies can seek to implement to protect employees. These include:

  1. Background checks: Companies can perform background checks on new employees during the hiring process to ensure that any criminal history aligns with what they may have reported on their application. Before drawing any conclusions, seek an explanation from the candidate to give them a chance to explain the situation. If recently convicted of a violent crime, companies could choose to identify another suitable candidate to reduce the risk of future violent crimes in the workplace.
  2. Policies against harassment: Companies should seek to create, implement, and enforce policies that are aimed at reducing harassment in the workplace that could otherwise escalate to violence. This type of policy should create a framework for addressing complaints of harassment in a way that is effective, efficient, and private.
  3. Effective communication: A key to reducing workplace violence is to ensure companies have strong communication channels so that employees have the means to recognize and report early indications of violence or aggression. HR should seek to ensure that employee complaints are heard and appropriately addressed.
  4. Training: Employees, managers, and HR staff alike should receive regular training on how to spot warning signs of workplace violence. This can ensure that these warning signs are not overlooked and appropriate actions can be taken to prevent any escalation.
  5. Zero-tolerance: HR departments should work with employees to establish a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any form of workplace violence. These policies should encourage employees to report any signs of danger. HR managers should strictly and impartially enforce the repercussions of violating this policy to ensure that all employees, regardless of position, are treated (and reprimanded) equally.
  6. Analyze incidents: Following any incident in the workplace, HR leaders should seek to analyze what happened. Look at who was affected, identify if there were any warning signs, evaluate if procedures were appropriately followed, and identify what could be implemented to prevent similar events in the future.
  7. Identify risk factors: Within any workplace, there may be certain risk factors that could increase the potential for violence. This could include understaffing, inadequate security, or employee assumptions that concerns will not be taken seriously. Once risk factors have been identified, companies should seek to mitigate these risks and reduce the likelihood they can trigger violence.

For businesses operating in high-crime areas, these policies should be well-defined and communicated to all employees so that everyone can be on the same page. Creating clear and defined policies is the first step to being able to enforce them to reduce violent risks. Still, many HR departments may not have a strong background in creating such policies. To ensure anti-workplace violence policies are effective, turning to an experienced HR outsourcing partner might be a better way to go.

Reducing Violence with HR Outsourcing

For companies looking to create strong policies, the best defense for workplace crime and violence is a knowledgeable partner who understands the HR landscape and the challenges facing HR departments today.

For example, Corban OneSource brings over two decades of HR experience to the table. With Corban OneSource’s HR administration services, we’ll work with you to create strong HR policies that can ensure your company and employees are properly protected. We deeply understand the changing landscape of the HR industry, ensuring that your company is always up-to-date with current best practices. With this in mind, the best defense for workplace crime and violence is a knowledgeable HR partner who can ensure your HR department has the right tools and support to enforce appropriate policies and procedures.

In addition to HR administration, Corban OneSource offers comprehensive HR solutions that include benefits administration and payroll. Our US-based team is always easy to reach when dealing with time-sensitive HR matters and can help you maintain HR compliance across all US jurisdictions.

If you’re ready to learn more about how Corban OneSource can help you optimize HR processes and implement the right policies to reduce workplace violence, contact our knowledgeable team today.