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Top Tips Part III – Warning Signs of Workplace Violence

Although you may not know if an individual fits the profile for violence or what might trigger that person to act in a violent way, there are sometimes (but not always) warning signs that precede actual violence.  The warning signs also may vary depending on the perpetrator’s relationship or lack of relationship to the employer or one of its employees.  Following are some, but not necessarily all, of the possible warning signs depending on the perpetrator’s relationship to the workplace.  These behaviors may be observable in person, in electronic communications, on social media and blogs, or in other ways.

A. Warning Signs – Current Employees

  1. Engages in unusual, odd, irrational, or unexplainable behavior
  2. Has major or sudden deterioration in performance, attendance and/or behavior
  3. Has fascination, obsession, or extreme familiarity with weapons or violence
  4. Makes excessive use of supervisor’s time (to discuss job or personal problems)
  5. Has antagonistic relationships with others or frequent verbal disputes
  6. Is obsessed with a romantic interest
  7. Display physical or behavioral signs of illegal drug or alcohol use
  8. Frequently discusses serious personal problems or relationship problems
  9. Blames others, makes excuses, or is extremely defensive
  10. Has low energy or enthusiasm, suddenly becomes withdrawn, or talks about suicide
  11. Has extreme anxiety or frustration with job, career, or personal life
  12. Has extreme resentment, hostility, or anger or makes threatening comments
  13. Is more cynical and pessimistic than usual
  14. Appears to have no friends, social life, or outside interests
  15. Constantly challenges supervisor or other authority figures

    B. Warning Signs – Former Employees

    1. Was disgruntled about employer or some employment action while employed
    2. Exhibited some of the warning signs of current employees while employed
    3. Was fired or feels that he/she was forced to quit or had no choice but to quit
    4. Made threats or was extremely angry at time of termination of employment
    5. Makes threatening or unnecessary phone calls to his/her former workplace
    6. Makes unnecessary visits to his/her former workplace; loiters in parking lot or on premises
    7. Sends threatening letters, e-mails, texts, voicemails, or faxes to former employer
    8. Indicates that he/she wants to get even with employer or “go postal”
    9. Stalks current employees
    10. Obsessed with the past and can’t seem to move forward with his/her life

    C. Warning Signs – Significant Others/Family Members of Current Employees

    1. Makes harassing or threatening phone calls to employee at work
    2. Sends threatening letters, e-mails, texts, or voicemails to employee at work
    3. Makes excessive visits to employee at work; observed lingering or loitering in parking lot or on premises
    4. Threatens employee with harm if the employee loses his/her job
    5. Threatens the employer or other employees with harm if the employee is fired
    6. Tries to intervene when the employee is disciplined or doesn’t receive a pay increase
    7. Gets angry, hostile, or abusive with the employee in front of co-workers
    8. Calls the employee’s friends at work to check up on the employee
    9. Stalks the employee on or near the work site
    10. Employee shows up at work with suspicious bruises or injuries