December 9, 2018

Do employees need to be trained in how to prevent WPV?

“Why do I need to train employees on workplace violence (WPV)? I mean, they don’t need to know all that stuff. it’ll just clog their day. And I don’t think they need to know that nonsense, because they need to do their job & concentrate on making the business successful so they’ll have a job tomorrow!”

This is a paraphrased truthful statement that I got from a service business owner when pitching him a WPV workshop for his business. I attempted to inform him the reasoning why they needed to know what to look for and how it can affect the business. Unfortunately, not being a salesman…

Far too many times, the reasoning for not conducting training on WPV is a financial attitude. If the training takes place during business hours then its lost productivity. If it’s done off hours, they have to be paid so therefore it’s lost money, and anything that interferes with those business aspects…is simply not allowed.

Secondly, it’s the employer’s attitude that I mentioned above. Many companies don’t train their employees on protecting themselves and co-workers on WPV, and why? Because they have the most dangerous attitude I’ve talked about before, Chh, Can’t Happen Here.

The key to recognizing and preventing WPV is training. Employees need to know what to look for and why they need to report those items. Warning signs especially are something to train them on because this is the first step in preventing an incident from…anyone, employee or customer.

By experience & observation, most companies consider any training over and above the orientation session, is useless and too trivial to worry about. In some cases, they may be correct, but not in this one. If you have an incident, do you want to have employees that are informed and know what to do or just run around in a sheer panic, like a chicken with its head cut off, and make it worse for everyone?

Is not re-fresher training on sexual harassment or their benefits necessary? Maybe changes in shift hours or conditions? How about a new machine or product line? You have to spend time to train them on these, so WPV shouldn’t be any different. That is of course if you really care about their welfare and not being sued.

But what do you train your employees in, other than the 23 warning signs? Here is a short list of the things that they need to be trained on, & avoid, hopefully, an incident.

  • Where WPV occurs. You have to remember it doesn’t just happen at an organization. Sometimes organizational issues follow them home
  • Attitudes that they, and others in the company, may have that may encourage an incident from customers or co-workers. No one is immune to these attitudes, remember CHH?
  • Customer service. Yes, I know you teach this to everyone. But you don’t necessarily teach them how customer service can prevent an incident. Before you can guffaw, it can very easily.
  • Fight, run, or hide. You’ve seen the video and red the materials. But I think it needs to be taught, including the fight aspect. Yes fight. One employee should tuck the customers away in the back, but if the employee or customer is in front of you fight back and distract them…maybe.
  • Situational Awareness. Your employees need to have situational awareness, what it is, and how to develop it. Without it they may be clueless to what is happening or about to come. And that could prove fatal for someone
  • Evacuation Plans. Your employees need to know where the exits are, even if the place is filled with smoke. If an (ex) employee comes in to the business and create havoc, they will know every evacuation door. So, the employees need to be instructed to think out-of-the-box in these situations. And don’t forget about anyone who may be disabled in the area as well.


Training for an incident of WPV should be like all other programs. It needs to be done on a continual and consistent basis. It does no good to train for anything for a few days and then drop it because you don’t have the time, energy, or financial resources. You have to make the time, find the money, and the energy to do it.

How do I answer those owners or managers who ask me the questions above? In my own blunt and direct manner, I tell them that one such incident can put them out of business because of the cost and that it can happen to anyone (organization), at any time, any-where, for any reason. While the frequency of fatal WPV may be low, it doesn’t negate the fact that it can literally kill their business and start litigation against them, both personally and financially.

Robert D. Sollars helps organizations to safeguard the lives of their employees and students and lessen their risk of violence, as well as with other security–related issues, using time–tested and proven ideas.


Twitter: twitter@robertsollars2



Phone: 480-251-5197

He is the author of three books on preventing violence in both schools and businesses, all available on Amazon.

His book–related website, with full information on his most recent book, Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention, is:

I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear


Permission to reprint and share? Of course, with these guidelines: The original content must be printed in full, with original wording and full attribution.

Copyright 2018 Robert D. Sollars


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