Our top-trends blogs, which highlight what our experts foresee as driving best practices and priorities across the U.S. and the world, remain among our most popular posts. In 2020, we present a multi-part series covering critical issues and advances in (1) security risk management, (2) security design, (3) threat and violence risk management, (4) emergency management and response planning, (5) investigations, (6) law enforcement consulting, and (7) private client and family office security.

Trend #1: Fear of mass shooting and active assailant attacks will continue to impact everyday Americans’ daily habits and psyches.

In 2020, the fear of mass shootings and active assailant attacks will continue to shape how people act in their daily lives, whether at the workplace or at home. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), nearly one in three adults feel they cannot go anywhere without worrying about being a victim of a mass shooting, with one-third saying this fear prevents them from attending certain events. Most survey respondents (71 percent) said a mass shooting was their number-one stressor.

Any effective threat-and-violence risk-management program and related prevention policies must encompass the context in which they function. After all, it is a discipline focused on human behavior, which is subject to shift and change in response to multiple factors. And emotions – anxiety, fear, uncertainty, struggles, anger – are an important part of the equation to understand and effectively address the two-fold challenge of workplace violence and targeted violence.

Although uncertainty and fear are impossible to eliminate completely, organizations can take steps to increase how safe and secure employees feel in their work environment. If employees are ever confronted with the need to decide on a fight-or-flight response, they react in a strategic and sound manner when they have the tools to do so.

In our Think. React. Survive.™ training curriculum, we emphasize how practicing self-awareness and knowing what to do in response to an active shooter can save lives and give employees peace of mind during their average day. This type of training details the spectrum of workplace violence and educates personnel on warning signs and risk factors.

Trend #2: We expect to see an increase in state, national and global initiatives focused on new and stronger legislation targeting workplace harassment, violence and gun violence.

From global pacts and acts to new bills and laws, advocacy groups will continue to exert pressure in 2020. Lawmakers will be tasked with passing and regulating new and stronger legislation related to the protection of employees and citizens against the impact and consequences of harassment, assaults and extreme violence in the workplace. Here are some outcomes from the past year:

  • R.1309, Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and will be moving on to the U.S. Senate.
  • State legislators have introduced nearly 200 bills in the past two years to strengthen protections against workplace harassment, according to a July 2019 National Women’s Law Center To date, 15 states have passed new protections.
  • Canada’s new workplace harassment law“… will be the real game-changers for many employers who will have to completely reassess how they manage harassment and violence in the workplace,” says Bill Hlibchuk of Montreal, an employment and labor law lawyer. These new workplace harassment regulations will take effect in 2020 and recognize domestic violence as a workplace hazard.
  • In response to rising concerns related to active shooters, at least 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have approved some version of “red flag” laws, which allow courts to issue orders to temporarily confiscate the firearms of individuals deemed to be a risk to others or themselves.
  • On the world stage, Reuters reported in May of 2019 that they were nearing agreement on a global pact to fight workplace violence and harassment.

Trend #3: Organizations will institute stronger training requirements for personnel on workplace violence prevention.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly one-third of American employees are “currently unsure or don’t know what to do if they witness or are involved in a workplace violence incident.” However, half of HR professionals report that their organization encountered some type of workplace violence incident — a metric that has increased from 36 percent in 2012.

This discrepancy is alarming for any organization seeking to mitigate and prevent workplace violence. Coworkers are often the first line of defense when it comes to preventing an incident, as they can pick up on warning signs before anyone else.

This is why we believe organizations will seek more robust training for their workforces, so everyone knows what to look for and how to report. For example, our training is customized for three different groups of employees – coworkers, managers and members of the internal threat assessment team – to ensure individuals in different roles receive the appropriate information.

Trend #4: The U.S. healthcare industry and other sectors will continue to grapple with tragic consequences, including suicide, in response to workplace violence.

In 2020, establishing a sound workplace violence program will continue to be a top priority for the healthcare industry. Though workplace violence is an ongoing issue across the nation, healthcare facilities and their staff experience this violence at alarming rates compared to others. Researchers at the University of California at San Diego recently found that nurses have higher rates of suicide than the remainder of the population, the latest and one of the most tragic examples of this violence.

In addition to nurses, suicides have touched many other sectors. Unintentional overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work increased 12 percent in the sixth-consecutive annual increase. Work-related suicides also increased 11 percent across the board.

In March 2019, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, which would specifically protect healthcare and social service workers who face higher levels of violence in the workplace. The House of Representatives approved the bill in November.

Trend #5: More U.S. public companies will identify mass shootings as risk factors in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings.

As we begin 2020, we are already tracking an increase in the number of publicly traded companies warning investors about how gun violence could affect their financial performance. In our blog from August 2019, we discussed how Dave & Buster’s and Del Taco restaurants have already referenced active-shooter scenarios as a risk in their annual reports to their investors.

This trend reflects our current geopolitical climate in which mass shootings occur on a daily basis in the U.S. We strongly believe many more public companies will begin making comparable statements in SEC filings to decrease their liability if an incident were to occur.

If you want to talk more about how any or all of these trends might impact your organization, contact me, Matt Doherty (matthew.doherty@hillardheintze.com), or Howard Fisher (howard.fisher@hillardheintze.com).

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