The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the workplace, from massive layoffs and furloughs to an even heavier dependence on technology to conduct day-to-day business. One of the few things that remain unchanged is that maintaining and reinforcing a workplace violence prevention program and threat management process should be a top priority.

The lack of a defined, integrated workplace doesn’t negate the potential violence risk, especially during a time when your workforce is under tremendous stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These protocols not only translate to a digital world easily but give personnel the tools with which to mitigate a potential act of violence.

Threat management is the coordinated process of preventing an individual of concern from escalating to the point of committing an act of violence. It is a highly nuanced process that can change on a case-by-case basis which is why organizations often seek outside expertise to make sure it is done right.

Why the COVID-19 Crisis Necessitates Best Practice Threat Management

During the COVID-19 pandemic, your workforce faces significant and often new challenges. These can translate to unhealthy and negative responses that an employer has a duty to identify and mitigate. The challenges include:

  • Isolation. Most workers who are considered nonessential under stay-at-home orders are coping with isolation. Even if social distancing with friends or family, the act of quarantining can exacerbate untreated mental health issues, substance abuse disorders and other disruptive or dangerous behaviors. In extreme cases, these behaviors can lead to actions intended to hurt others or the person themselves.
  • Economic instability. It’s important to not only focus on your current employees but any person who may have been laid off or furloughed. These individuals may be facing the same struggles as an employed person (i.e., isolation) but with the added stress of unemployment. Past active assailant incidents against workplaces have shown that individuals on a path to violence frequently target their workplace over a perceived grievance – and retaliation against an employer for a layoff is a real concern.
  • Domestic violence. We also remind our clients that domestic violence continues to rise in frequency and severity during the pandemic. Individuals who target workplaces have often perpetrated domestic violence or another negative behavior, like stalking or sexual harassment, against women in particular. Understanding this connection is critical to preventing a workplace incident during the pandemic.

Your Human Resources team is responding as best they can to these unusual circumstances, but sometimes, outside support is required to reinforce their efforts with an added layer of assurance to their early actions and decisions.

Build a Stronger Response with Qualified Threat Management Experts

When your Human Resources function or a member of a threat assessment team (TAT) receives the notification of a potential threat that may be beyond their capacity to manage on their own, you should have ready access to specialized professional threat management support, day or night.

This support should include licensed clinical forensic psychologists who can elevate the violence risk screening process to an expert level and a multi-disciplinary team can bring critical insights to form a time-limited assessment.

The COVID-19 crisis has thrown organizations into an unparalleled situation – but you do not have to go it alone. We want our clients to feel secure in their workplace violence prevention and threat management procedures and having the Hillard Heintze team of experts on the proverbial speed dial is a critical part of that.

If you have questions, feel free to reach out to us.

Learn more about the role of threat management in a work-from-home world.
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