How To Reduce The Risk Of Workplace Violence

August 4, 2010


In light of the recent workplace violence in Connecticut, I thought it would be a good idea to share the following articles:

Protecting Your Staff And Your Company

Preventing workplace violence means protecting your employees from injury and protecting your company from disruption and lawsuits. While it’s impossible to guarantee that an employee will never act violently in the workplace, you can use this information to dramatically lower the likelihood of it happening.

Photo Credit: sindesign

8 Tips On How Employers Can Minimize Risk Of Workplace Violence

January 22, 2010


I just read an excellent article from the The Houston Chronicle entitled “Employers can minimize risk of workplace violence.”

The author stresses these important points:

“While violence cannot always be anticipated, this does not relieve employers of their obligation to provide a safe workplace. First, federal law requires it. With the Department of Labor adding investigators and stepping up workplace safety enforcement, compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations should be a management priority. Second, workers compensation insurance provides Texas employers only limited protection against liability from the inevitable lawsuits following a workplace tragedy.”

Here are the the 8 Tips On How Employers Can Minimize Risk Of Workplace Violence from the article:

  1. Accept reality: The recent shootings reinforce the fact that the risk of workplace violence is omnipresent. Employers must be proactive to prevent or minimize exposure to such incidents.
  2. Use effective pre-employment documents and conduct background checks: An effective application coupled with valid legal releases and disclaimers provide key information on the applicant. Employers should conduct background investigations to discover prior convictions, litigation history, motor vehicle records, employment references, credit history, education records and other relevant background information concerning the applicant.
  3. Establish policies on workplace violence: Employers should establish a written zero-tolerance position on violence, threats or abusive language and make clear that any violation of these rules can be grounds for termination. A workplace violence policy should also include a procedure to confidentially report threats.
  4. Conduct substance-abuse testing: Private employers should test all applicants and employees for substance abuse to the extent allowed by law. Negative test results should be a condition of employment.
  5. Develop procedures for investigating threats: These procedures should include specific guidelines for conducting an investigation and interviewing witnesses and the individual who allegedly made the threat. To the extent necessary, employers should retain security consultants, psychologists, attorneys or other professionals for advice on how to handle threats quickly, effectively and legally.
  6. Train supervisors and employees: Supervisors should be instructed to identify violence risks and report all threats to management immediately. Supervisors should be trained in conflict resolution, stress management, managing change in the workplace and recognizing the early warning signs of violent employees. They should also be trained to be sensitive to the fact that seemingly small issues can suddenly escalate into workplace problems. Employees should be trained regarding their responsibility to report threats or violence.
  7. Implement an employee assistance program: EAPs can help employees who are having a difficult time handling stress in their lives.
  8. Audit and improve security measures: Employers should establish a relationship with local law enforcement officials and a security consultant. Employers should also conduct an audit to determine areas of vulnerability and/or procedural weaknesses. Basic systems for protecting property, such as lighting, pass keys or cards, intercoms, employee identification, surveillance or alarm equipment and other systems or devices should be considered.

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3 Critical Reasons To Screen Health Care Employees

December 19, 2008

Hospitals and health care facilities are in a uniquely vulnerable position. The problems that are associated with making a bad hiring decision are made worse by the fact that lives are at risk every moment. Not only is a hospital’s staff exposed, but patients can literally be defenseless. It’s important that any health care employee undergoes a criminal background check. Pre-employment screening should be done for doctors, nurses, other care providers, and even a hospital’s maintenance team. Plus, the screening should be ongoing for existing staff.

Today, I’ll explain the 3 most important reasons why hospitals and health care facilities must screen candidates before hiring them.

#1 – Danger To Staff

A hospital’s staff is often busy taking care of patients. Time is limited and it’s seldom spent wondering if a co-worker can be trusted or is going to cause physical harm. If an employee is hired with a violent criminal past, the staff is extremely vulnerable. Instruments can be used violently and medications can be used to poison others.

These things have happened in the past. They’ll happen again in the future. Health care employers must minimize the risk by performing comprehensive background checks on all applicants.

#2 – Danger To Patients

A prospective employee who has been convicted of a violent or drug-related crime is particularly unsuitable for a job that places him in close proximity to patients. Their immediate access to those who are helpless exposes both the patients and the hospital to enormous risk. Hospitals and other health care providers must screen both prospective hires and existing employees to manage this risk.

#3 – Potential Lawsuits

A negligent hiring lawsuit can be expensive. If a patient or staff member suffers physically as a result of insufficient pre-employment screening, they can sue the hospital for negligent hiring. It’s not uncommon for the courts to award compensation in the millions of dollars to victims of workplace violence.

Background Checks To Minimize Hiring Risk

Every business should screen applicants and conduct background checks. Health care employers, in particular, must be diligent with the screening process in order to protect their staff and patients from harm. By searching for past criminal records, verifying past employment and licenses, and clarifying any gaps in work history, they can avoid making a disastrous hiring decision. The alternative is exposing the staff, patients, and the hospital to a hiring catastrophe.

Photo Credit: José Goulão

4 Common Lies Told By Job Candidates

November 7, 2008

Recent estimates suggest that over 50% of job applicants lie on their resumes. And when asked, nearly 70% of college graduates claim they would consider lying in order to get a job. For employers, this should be a major concern. At best, hiring an employee who lied on her resume wastes valuable time and resources. At worst, it can lead to workplace violence, theft, and negligent hiring lawsuits.

As applicants become increasingly comfortable with lying to potential employers, screening and background checks have never been more important. Today, I’ll expose 4 of the most common lies told by job candidates.

Lie #1: “Yes, I Earned That Degree”

Applicants lie about the degrees they’ve earned all the time. In some cases, they may have attended the school, but never finished their coursework. In other cases, they may have never attended the school in the first place. It’s a common lie because employers often fail to verify the information.

Lie #2: “I Don’t Have A Criminal Record”

Sometimes, applicants will lie outright about their criminal past. Other times, they’ll change small details such as how their name is spelled, the date they were born, or the cities in which they’ve lived. This can be a major hiring issue and employers need to carefully validate what they’re being told.

Lie #3: “I’ve Been Steadily Employed”

A lot of applicants realize that a gap in their employment history raises eyebrows. From an employer’s perspective, the gap may imply that the applicant spent in prison. So, candidates will lie about it, disguising gaps by changing dates or even creating jobs from thin air.

Lie #4: “My Salary At My Previous Job Was…”

Potential hires often inflate their salaries to give them more leverage over future salary negotiations. Offering a compensation package based upon misleading salary information can cost an employer tens of thousands of dollars.

Finding The Truth

Hiring an employee who has lied on their resume or application has become a significant problem for employers. But, the lies can be easily exposed by your hiring staff or an employee screening service. By doing extensive background checks on applicants, you can discover the truth. And that can make your business less vulnerable to a bad hire.

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Tags: Workplace ViolenceNegligent Hiring Lawsuits, Gaps in Employment, Employment Background Checks

Photo Credit: ktylerconk

Employee Screening Articles For October

October 31, 2008

In case you missed any of our employee screening articles for October, here’s a quick recap:

Sex Offenders and Halloween Safety Tips- Part 2

Sex Offenders and Halloween Safety Tips

Pre-Employment Drug Testing For Teachers

Background Checks For The Education Industry

Background Checks For Temporary Employees

Do You Have a Sex Offender Working For You?

Immigration Crackdown – HR Director Indicted

Drug-Free Work Week

Why Gaps In Employment Are A Red Flag

$100 Million For E-Verify

Hiring For Hotels: Why Screening Is Essential

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Can You Tell If Your Applicant Is Lying?

September 26, 2008

It’s estimated that nearly 30% of job applicants lie on their resumes. Millions of candidates misrepresent their education, work history, and qualifications. Even worse, they might be hiding a criminal past. According to ADP Screening and Selection, out of over 2 million background checks performed in 2001, over 40% of applicants lied about their past employment or education.

Some HR executives are confident that their interviewing skills can help them identify liars. But, studies show that visual clues are often misleading. And the cost of hiring a bad employee can be enormous.

When Visual Clues Are Unreliable

HR professionals often think that a lack of eye contact or excessive squirming is evidence that a potential hire is lying. But, such visual clues are unreliable. A candidate who doesn’t maintain eye contact and fidgets during an interview may be well-qualified, yet simply nervous. Eliminating him from the applicant pool can be a lost opportunity for an organization. What’s more, millions of people are adept at lying. Lacking visual evidence of dishonesty, an HR executive may hire a candidate who has misrepresented himself.

The True Cost Of A Bad Hire

Hiring someone who has lied on his resume can create a number of costly problems for a business. For example, if a new employee lied about his qualifications, a business might be forced to waste time training that employee or looking for another candidate. If a criminal history remains hidden, the costs can be much higher. Employee theft, workplace violence, and substance abuse can lead to expensive negligent hiring lawsuits. The true cost of hiring a bad employee can be unfathomable.

Background Checks Are Essential

Because employers and HR professionals can’t depend upon visual clues to identify lying applicants, they must perform comprehensive background checks. Checking references, calling past employers, and looking for hidden criminal records is the only reliable way to reveal whether an applicant is misrepresenting himself. If your business is hiring employees without conducting background checks, you are exposing your company to unnecessary risk.

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4 Questions Employers Have About Employee Screening

September 11, 2008

4 Questions Employers Have About Employee Screening Even though employee screening should be a fundamental part of every company’s hiring practices, many employers are concerned about how to take action on it. Most of them understand the severe costs of hiring a bad employee. But, they are still uncertain about how to begin screening candidates and conducting background checks.

Here are 4 common questions that many employers have about employee screening…

#1 – “Can We Afford Screening?”

The question that employers should be asking is, “Can we afford not to conduct employee screening?” Hiring a person without knowing whether he has a criminal record, drug problem, or a history of violence can be far more expensive than doing a background check. A single violent outburst in the workplace can end up costing millions. Meanwhile, screening a job candidate by running a thorough background check usually costs less than what employers spend on that employee during the first day.

#2 – “Do I Have A Legal Right To Screen?”

The government allows employers to conduct intense screening and background checks to order to avoid hiring bad candidates. Once a potential hire signs a consent form, the employer can legally begin checking credit reports, motor vehicle records and civil reports. They can also perform a criminal history search while verifying the candidate’s employment and education history.

#3 – “How Much Time Does Take?”

One of the concerns that employers have is whether doing an exhaustive background check will take too much time. A thorough screening process shouldn’t require more than a few days. Plus, having a policy of doing employee screening tends to discourage bad candidates from applying.

#4 – “Do I Have The Resources?”

Screening job candidates properly does require time and attention. Because many hiring managers are increasingly busy, a lot of companies choose to outsource the job to an experienced employee screening company. This type of service can immediately start conducting extensive background checks on potential hires.

Employers should consider employee screening as a critical part of the hiring process. It’s legal, cost-effective, can be done quickly and by outsourcing, doesn’t require a boost in HR staff. And the nightmare it can help employers avoid from taking on bad hires is immeasurable.

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4 Tips For Preventing Workplace Violence

August 22, 2008

GunsAs stress and frustration in the workplace reach an all-time high, employers have begun to cast a wary glance at their hiring practices. Violence in the workplace is not new. Most of us can remember the incidents that led to the term “going postal.” Today, many hiring managers are aware that companies are often held liable for the actions of their employees. Below, I’m going to give you 4 quick tips to reduce that liability and prevent workplace violence.

Tip #1: Do A Background Check

An extensive background check on a job applicant should reveal any workplace violence in her past. In many cases, companies that have witnessed one (or more) of their employees becoming violent failed to conduct a proper background check. Don’t make the same mistake.

Tip #2: Call Past Employers

Often, violent incidents in the workplace aren’t formally reported. Sometimes, filing a report simply falls through the cracks. Other times, an employer may feel that reporting the incident would be troublesome. However, a quick phone call to past employers can help uncover such episodes.

Tip #3: Create A Strict Policy

You should communicate to workers that violence or threats of violence will lead to termination. Often, this type of zero-tolerance procedure is enough to dissuade employees from losing control.

Tip #4: Watch For Red Flags During Interviews

Even if a potential employee does not have a history of workplace violence, your company could witness the first incident. However, interviewers can be trained to note certain mannerisms that manifest when confrontational questions are asked.

Protecting Your Staff And Your Company

In the end, preventing workplace violence means protecting your employees from injury and protecting your company from disruption and lawsuits. While it’s impossible to guarantee that an employee will never act violently in the workplace, you can use the 4 tips above to dramatically lower the likelihood of it happening.

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