Creative and Data-Driven Workplace Violence Prevention Programs: A Comprehensive Model

In anticipation of GSX, we sat down with presenters of upcoming sessions in order to get a better understanding of the topics at hand. This week we are featuring, “Creative and Data-Driven Workplace Violence Prevention Programs: A Comprehensive Model,” presented by Bonnie Michelman, CPP, Executive Director; Police, Security and Outside Services at Mass General Brigham and Lynda Buel, CPP, President & CEO at SRMC, LLC. Read on for what they had to say and don’t forget to register for GSX 2022

Q: How did you become interested in your topic? 

BM: I became interested as I have seen an evolution of healthcare violence increasing, spreading, and employing different modalities for several decades.   Trying to combat this trend and mitigate/reduce violence is contingent on strong data analysis and trending for optimal resource deployment.  The criticality of having a comprehensive workplace violence program capturing multiple components is critical 

Q: Tell us about your presentation and why should security professionals have this topic on their radar? 

LB: This presentation will showcase ways to build a diverse, innovative and comprehensive workplace violence/conflict program with sustained leadership and employee engagement.  We will also share a data driven approach for resource deployment and program optimization that will exemplify violence mitigation and prevention. 

Workplace violence remains a real and increasing threat to America’s workforce and the pandemic has only exasperated it.  Everyone has experienced pandemic fatigue and as employees started to return to the workplace this year, it has only compounded the issue.  Employers have not had to deal with the day to day concern of workplace violence like they did prior to the pandemic and as with anything, when numbers decline, so does the awareness level.  According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately two million workers are victims of workplace violence every year and this number is increasing. 

Organizations need to ensure that they have the appropriate measures in place to address workplace violence.  A Workplace Violence Prevention Program is extremely important.  Early identification and intervention are the key to success.  Too often leaders within organizations think, it will not happen here but incidents across the globe prove otherwise. 

Q: What advice you would give security professionals interested in this topic? 

BM: Research and benchmark what other organizations are doing, what techniques and activities have been beneficial and what has been less so.  Determining your organization’s appetite for risk is important as is showcasing the fiscal, legal, operational, profitability and reputation impact of a creative and robust program managing workplace conflict and violence. 

Q: How do you see this issue evolving in the next 2-5 years?  

LB: Workplace violence is here to stay.  Historically, the FBI began officially tracking incidents of workplace violence in the 1980’s when there were a rash of postal shootings.  Surprisingly given all the media attention to this topic, many organizations continue to flounder when it comes to developing, implementing, and managing a successful workplace violence prevention program.  The good news is that with the increased focus on the importance of maintaining a safe and healthful workplace that is free from serious recognized hazards (OSHA General Duty Clause) and the recent passage of the Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care and Social Services Act, organizations will increasingly recognize the value and importance of implementing an effective program.  Therefore, I see programs continuing to evolve for the better to meet the needs of the organization and the requirements of the law.