The shooting in San Bernadino yesterday at a company Christmas party has people wondering if this is terrorism or is it workplace violence?  Syed Farook and wife Tashfeen Malik, left his company party and left coworkers wondering why he left the party.

The Bureau of Labor statistics report that every year approximately 2 million American workers are effected to workplace violence.  In 2004, USA Today analyzed 224 fatal incidents in the workplace and the attacker in each of these cases left clear warning signs.

There are many warning signs in workplace violence cases but below is a list of the most common!

10 Warning Signs of Workplace Violence

  1. Late to work or missing work frequently: When a good employee goes from being on time often and then starts leaving early, coming in late or missing work without permission this could be an indicator.
  2. Requires more intervention or supervision:  Typically, once an employee is trained they do not need much supervision.  If an employee suddenly needs more supervision to deal with performance or emotional problems this could be another warning sign that this employee may need professional help or a referral to your workplace Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
  3. Performance drops:  If an employee is productive and proficient but experiences a sudden drop in performance, then they may receive some pressure from management.  Management should meet with this employee as the drop in performance may be related to dissatisfaction with the job or people at work.  The manager should intervene and see if there is a way to come up with a way to help the employee resolve their disgruntled feelings.
  4. Work routines change:  When an employee’s work habits and routines change this can be another indicator especially when this working has had consistent work habits.
  5. Difficulty focusing and concentrating:  Focus and concentration issues can be caused by an employee having frustration with someone at work and effect work quality or performance.  So they may need a referral to talk with an EAP counselor or manager to discuss what might be done to alleviate this stress.
  6. Stress indicators:  Frequent safety violations or accidents are often a sign of significant stress.
  7. Attitude changes:  Employees often pick up quickly on personality changes in their coworkers.  A work environment should instill trust and open communication so employees fees safe to talk about changes they see in someone.
  8. Weapon obsession:  This is typically recognized easily when an employee is fascinated and obsessed by talking about weapons and should be reported to management.
  9. Substance abuse and alcohol:  Mood and character changes in an employee when using substances can easily be seen and workplaces should have a process in place to address this before problems escalate.
  10. Blame shifting:  Shifting blame or responsibility off themselves and onto machines or other people is often a sign that is ignored by management but workers notice.  This is another sign that the employee may need assistance.

The United States Department of Labor has a more comprehensive list of Workplace Violence Signs but this list is the most common classic signs!

Note: You can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print, as long as you leave the author’s contact information intact.

Author Jim West, LMHC, NCC is a National Certified Counselor and is the president of Total Life Counseling Center.  His center runs Anger Management groups and has Anger Experts for those who need help with work, holiday or home stress!  Give us a call for a free 15 Phone Consultation (407) 248-0030