Preventing Workplace Violence

Tips for managers

Workplace safety is a growing concern for both managers and employees. Given the many millions of workers, however, the probability of being involved in a violent workplace incident is low. In the event that a violent workplace incident happens, preparation beforehand becomes critical.


Workplace violence can have severe consequences, especially when employees are unprepared. For example, employees may suffer from emotional harm, resulting in lost productivity, increased absenteeism or turnover. Injuries or death can lead to costly insurance claims and litigation. Property damage can result in expensive building repairs or interrupted or lost business.


Taking the following steps can lessen the effects of workplace violence:

  • Acquire proper training. As a manager, it’s critical to be informed about your organization’s workplace violence policies, procedures and methods of prevention. This includes how to deal with troubled employees, how to use safety equipment in your workplace and how to observe and report behavioral changes in employees.
  • Communicate violence prevention policies and procedures to your team. Ensure your team knows what to do in a crisis. Consider holding mock drills so your team feels more confident and prepared for a potential crisis. Employees should know:
    • Where and when to run, hide, shelter in place, or fight.
    • The location of entry and exit points, fire extinguishers and basic medical supplies and how to operate them.
    • How to report fires, other emergencies or concerns about safety.
    • What to do when law enforcement arrives during an emergency.
    • How to communicate with others during a crisis.
    • Information about hospitals in the area.
    • How to recognize and defuse potentially violent situations.
  • Secure your workplace. Consider environmental security measures such as surveillance, lighting, exit and entry control, and cash control. There are also ways to make your workplace more secure from an administrative standpoint – such as screening potential employees for a propensity to violence, taking precautions during closing and opening, including law enforcement in your training exercises, and promoting a respectful work environment.
  • Know the warning signs. Look out for the following signs of a potentially violent employee:
    • Holding a grudge against a manager or co-worker
    • Recent loss of a significant other
    • Emotional mood swings
    • Fascination with violence
    • Self-destructive behavior
    • Preoccupation with pornography
    • Severe intoxication
    • Fear of losing control
    • Rage or extreme anger
    • Abusive to opposite sex or animals
    • Symbolic dehumanization of others
    • Post-traumatic stress from combat or other situations


MHN’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help before, during and after disruptive or traumatic incidents. For instance, to help organizations prepare, MHN’s EAP engages with leadership to identify strengths and gaps in plans and processes. With a thorough understanding of the organization, MHN’s EAP can help develop a sound, effective plan for crisis. In the event of a crisis, our critical incident team is available around the clock to support employees. After a crisis, we can empower an organization to move forward. Employees can also call the EAP at any time for support with a personal issue. To learn more, please call 1-800-327-7526 or email


This article is for informational and self-help purposes only. It should not be treated as a substitute for financial, medical, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice, or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified professional.
Managed Health Network, Inc. (MHN) is a subsidiary of Health Net, Inc. The MHN family of companies includes Managed Health Network, MHN Services and MHN Government Services. Health Net and Managed Health Network are registered service marks of Health Net, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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Susan Peters