Human resources specialist shares workplace violence stats, tips to avoid problems

There has been an increase in workplace homicides in recent years, like the one at Old National Bank in Kentucky on Monday. A human resources expert says that t
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 4:56 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2023 at 6:35 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - There has been an increase in workplace homicides in recent years, like the one at Old National Bank in Kentucky on Monday. Tuesday on East Texas Now, a human resources expert says that the increase could be due to the pandemic, among other causes.

On Monday, April 10, a man entered the Old National Bank in Louisville, Kentucky, and opened fire, killing five people and injuring eight others.

Upon investigation into the shooting it was discovered that the shooter was an employee of the bank who had recently learned he would be fired.

In the wake of this tragedy, it is important to learn more about workplace violence and what can be done to prevent it.

Jim Link, Chief Human Resources Officer with the Society of Human Resource Management, shares his expertise on the issue.

Workplace violence is a prevalent and growing issue. According to Link, “In the time period from 2014 to 2019 workplace homicides increased by 11 percent.”

According to Link, the protective service industry (security guards, for example) is the industry where workplace violence is most prevalent. With managerial positions being the second most impacted by workplace violence.

Link mentions a period of change the workplace is going through which seems to exacerbate the possibility of violence.

“We’re continuing to deal with after effects of isolation and loneliness brought on by the pandemic,” said Link, “And other issues which I think are becoming more and more prevalent around the whole mental health crisis, not just in the workplace, but in our society.”

When asked about how gender affects workplace violence Link said, “the people on the receiving end of workplace violence are almost exclusively men; 82 percent of those impacted by workplace violence are male.”

Link says the most obvious thing to look for as warning signs are changes in behavior. “We may see this as being more aggressive, more short-tempered, even changes in hygiene and appearance,” said Link, “anything that differs from the norm particularly in reaction to how that employee would respond to a workplace situation like a change, a change in schedule or a change in practice or policy.”

According to Link the best way to address any concerns one may have about a coworker or employee is to let managers or leaders know. Link also recommends training for workplace violence.

“In those organizations that have had workplace violence training, 87 percent of those employees in those organizations report that they would know what to do in the event of a workplace violence situation.”

Link’s advice for The absolute best thing if a manager is firing a potential problematic employee is plan ahead, make sure it happens in a safe place, make sure some security is present, show empathy with employee.

Link highly encourages workplace violence training; it’s low cost and benefits employers. Numerous services offer this training for employees and managers.

“The benefits of awareness and responsibility that the employer takes to help its employees are absolutely the right thing to do,” says Link.