Security, HR, and/or a threat assessment team can work together and use a five-step model to manage a current or former employee making threats. As with many dynamic situations involving the threat of workplace violence, there is no one perfect solution. These ideas, especially done in combination, can deter subjects from violence, both while they are employees or after their terminations.
Humane supervision and treatment. Research into the motives for employee violence suggests that many perpetrators target certain coworkers, bosses, or HR representatives on the basis of how they felt mistreated by them.
Courageous progressive discipline. The value of progressive discipline is twofold: It gets more severe the less the employee complies, and it’s flexible enough to allow HR or the supervisor to skip steps when necessary.
Benevolent severance. We can lessen the impact of a termination by using outside-the-box HR tools, like graduated severance pay; continued medical or employee assistance program (EAP) coverage beyond the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA); outplacement help; and an agreed-upon response for reference check calls from other employers.
Armed or unarmed security officers. Increasing the site security staffing levels with armed and unarmed officers can provide more observation, calm employee fears, and demonstrate due diligence.
Cyber monitoring. It’s important to monitor all cyber correspondence from ex-employees for escalation, repetition, and rising seriousness.
Increased law enforcement patrols and meetings. Asking for extra patrols and advice from police can help the company create a plan for dealing with angry ex-employees, domestic violence suspects, temporary restraining order (TRO) violators, or other trespassers.
Work history file review. Looking at the subject employee’s work behavior and performance over his or her tenure can reveal patterns of conflict, misconduct, or targeting.
Forensic statement analyses. Threat assessment professionals can help support conclusions about a subject’s escalation, targeting, loss of hope, anger, depression, and suicidal or homicidal ideations.
Ongoing review of social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and a wide range of other open-source sites can offer security, HR, and IT representatives information about a subject’s ideas, plans, motives, and triggers.
Mental Health Management
EAP referrals. Many subject employees who are caught up in the complexities of their situations ignore the EAP because they think it’s not confidential, they feel prideful about asking for help, or they don’t even know the EAP provider exists.
Fitness-for-Duty (FFD) evaluations. An FFD evaluation by a psychiatrist is used to determine if a problematic employee can return to work and if any work restrictions or accommodations must be made.
Return-to-work strategies. If the organization makes the decision to allow an employee who made threats or acted out to return to work, there must be a transition plan.
Civil orders. Victim-employees should tell HR and security about the presence of a TRO and call the police when it is violated.
Police or citizen’s arrest. Security officers should be ready to make citizen’s arrests when a subject has broken the law. The police should be called to investigate and make arrests for crimes involving threats or violence.
Short- or long-term mental health holds. It may be necessary to work with clinicians to determine if a subject-employee is a danger to self or others or is gravely disabled.