Pulling it All Together: The 7 Steps to Achieve Your Workplace Violence Program Goal
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Overwhelmed yet? If you have been following this article series on implementing a Workplace Violence Program and Active Shooter Training, you very well may be lost in the huge pile of information that you just learned about all the pieces that come together to create a safe work environment for your employees. This summary article will help you pull all this information together into an actionable list for you to address in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
Step One: Take a Breath!
While it may seem to be a daunting task at the moment, we promise that it is not nearly so complicated once you have made sense of what your organization needs and pick your starting point. Please forgive the cliché, but as the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and neither will your Workplace Violence Program. Look at this as a long-term project, with small, achievable steps that will take you to your ultimate goal. The most important mistake to avoid is not properly choosing your starting point and risking the success of your program by running out of money or the executives’ good-will somewhere along the way. So, where should you start?
Step Two: Select Your Safety Team
In the first article of the series, you learned about the function of a safety team and who should be a member. This is the group of employees who represent relevant departments within your organization and will be involved in the research, decision-making, and implementation of this program. Assembling this team to get everyone on the same page is an important starting point. Depending on the size and structure of your organization, this Safety Team may only be two or three people, or in other cases, 10 or more. Either case is absolutely fine, so don’t feel pressure to pull in people that aren’t truly necessary just to have a larger group. However, taking the time to determine appropriate participation now will save you time and hassle in the long run and help ensure the smoothest roll-out possible.
Step Three: Consider an Expert
As was stressed in each of the articles from this series, starting with an expert site security assessment can often be the best way for an organization to get off on the right foot. This assessment will offer expert guidance based on your unique needs, challenges, and culture so you do not have to navigate all the options on your own. This will help to streamline your implementation and better guarantee that each of your new program components will work as intended. Deciding to go with a third-party security assessment will determine your immediate next steps, so this should be the first item of discussion with your Safety Team. If you do choose that this is your preferred route, your next step will be doing research on which expert is the best fit for your goals and budget. Not all third-party vendors will offer the same scope of service in this assessment, so ask the right questions before you hire anyone to make sure they will provide you with the information that you need. You can learn more about our site assessments here. If you choose to keep the program development process in-house, your next step will be to perform your own audit of your current workplace violence related policies, emergency operations plan, training, and physical security. Delegate this work to members of your safety team and get started!
Step Four: Debrief the Results
Once your Safety Team or your consultant has completed the audit of your current safety and security status, you will want to get back together with your entire Safety Team to debrief the findings. Carefully go through each recommendation or result and discuss the potential solutions. In a report like the ones that we provide, you may receive several levels of recommendations, both in priority and on how to resolve the concern. For example, we will generally recommend Active Shooter training as a high priority item to implement immediately, whereas updating the camera system may be of medium importance with a recommended timeline of the next 12 months. Additionally, some recommendations will come with several different tiers of solutions and the organization can choose which is the best fit for their culture and budget.
The goal of this debrief session or sessions will be to determine the course of action that your organization will take on each recommendation and the order in which to implement these decisions. This will help prioritize your time and budget and get the actionable steps of your program off to the best possible start. After you have narrowed down your plan, complete any final research necessary to choose the specific vendors you will use for each component.
Step Five: Ready, Set, Go!
Now that all your planning is complete, it’s time to get rolling on your first program component! If you have chosen to begin with training (great choice!), coordinate with your training provider on how the program will be implemented. If you have decided to do an in-person session, you will need to iron out the details on when the training will be held and how many sessions you need. Some providers may put a cap on attendance, which will influence whether you can complete this in one session or require multiple. Whether you choose online or in-person training, messaging to your employees is very important. You will want to let everyone in the company know about this new initiative and any specific details that will help them know what to expect and feel more comfortable. Given the mixed emotions or preconceived notions that often accompany this topic, we find that a message from leadership about their reasons for doing the training can go a long way. Provide details about what will happen in the training so they know whether there will be any hands-on components or any other kind of interactive requirements. Our active shooter training comes with an implementation guide with template language that an organization can customize and send to all employees to effectively communicate about the upcoming training.
If your starting point is with your policies or security upgrades, you may be able to wait until after the implementation is complete to notify your employees. Policies should be communicated once finalized, and, as was advised in the policy article, all employees should be asked to sign that they have received and understand the new or updated language. Physical security upgrades have the potential to be more invasive within the workspace, which will dictate when you will need to make your team aware of the changes. Any physical infrastructure that requires specific personnel actions, such as use of a new locking system or panic buttons, will require additional communication and potential training to ensure that this new investment is used properly.
Step Six: Stick With It!
All your great planning will hopefully make the implementation of your program go smoothly, but always be prepared to navigate potential road bumps along the way! If something unexpected happens, do your best to not let it derail the entire effort. You have worked too hard to give up on it now! Be ready to answer questions from concerned employees who may feel like these security measures are unnecessary. This will be handled most smoothly if you have some preplanned messaging to help share the importance of this program in a consistent manner to anyone who asks. Keep open lines of communication with your vendors as well, so that you can be updated on any changes to scheduling or deliverables. If you have any tight deadlines on receiving your training or installation of physical infrastructure, make sure that you communicate that from the beginning. We can speak from experience from the vendor perspective that a project runs much more smoothly when there is an agreed upon timeline versus repeated and last-minute changes to the roll-out schedule. Obviously, things happen and there will be circumstances out of your or the vendor’s control which will necessitate some rescheduling but do your best to develop a timeline and stick with it. Through it all, keep your end goal in sight but work off the more attainable middle steps that you developed with your safety team so that you can monitor tangible progress.
Step Seven: Review and Revise
Once your initial roll-out is complete, you will want to monitor the success and failures of each component so that you can revise as needed. You should expect that some policies and procedures may need to be tweaked once they are in use within your organization to ensure that they are truly functional. Ask for employee feedback on your training program and decide whether you will continue with that training provider or need to switch to one that better addresses your workplace violence preparedness. During our site assessments, we will interview employees and always ask their opinions of previous training efforts. More often than not, the employee shares that they did not feel any more prepared after the training and found it to be completely ineffective. This feedback often comes as a surprise to leadership. If you are going to be investing in a training solution, you clearly want it to be well-received and do what it is supposed to, so do not be afraid to change course as needed until you find a program that is the best fit. Hopefully, through the guidance of our training article, you will make the perfect selection right from the start and hear only positive and grateful feedback from your employees!
We hope that this helps to break down the process for implementing a workplace violence program within your organization. We applaud your interest and effort in achieving this essential and life-saving goal. For any additional information to help you along the way, please refer to our website or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation call! Best of luck, and as always, we are here to help in any way that we can!