Describe steps supervisors can take to reduce workplace violence.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many steps that supervisors can take to reduce the risk of workplace violence.  However, there is no guarantee that violence can be prevented even if all steps are taken.

The first thing to do is to try to hire workers who are not likely to become violent.  This, of course, includes running criminal record checks on applicants.  It also involves asking them to do things like identifying supervisors that they have admired or discussing things that have made them mad in past jobs.  These sorts of questions can help to reveal if the applicant is easily angered or hard to get along with.

It is also important for supervisors to monitor workers’ behaviors on a consistent basis.  They should talk to their subordinates on a regular basis, which can help them gauge the subordinates’ emotional state.  They should watch for changes in a worker’s behavior that might indicate that the worker is experiencing moods swings.  They could then try to talk to the employee or, if the firm is big enough, encourage the employee to seek counseling (some firms’ insurance companies offer things like counseling opportunities).

It is also important to try to make sure the employee is capable of doing their job.  Violence can erupt if a worker is becoming frustrated by their inability to properly perform their job.  By monitoring the employee’s performance, a supervisor may be able to note when a worker is having problems and work to help that employee.

There are many other things that supervisors and other levels of management can do.  For a more thorough discussion, please follow the link below.  

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Research indicates that supervisors must adopt a "zero- tolerance" approach to workplace violence.  Workers must feel that the culture of the workplace setting is one in which violence will not be tolerated:

"Adopt a zero-tolerance policy that addresses signs of potential violence," counseled Security Management's Michael Gips. "Such a policy should clearly state that threats, intimidation, destruction of company property, and violence in any form will not be tolerated and provide for progressive disciplinary action for such conduct."

When workers feel that this is evident, research indicates that workplace violence has a better chance of being curbed.

At the same time, studies suggest that when supervisors take a greater interpersonal interest in the lives of the workers, frustration and stress triggers for violence decrease.  Violence results when workers feel alienated from their workplace setting.  Being able to forge links with employees help to substantiate a culture that does not tolerate isolation.  This helps to make violence and dehumanization in the workplace less likely.  When managers commit to these steps, the reduction of workplace violence is more likely.