What to do about troubling behavior in the workplace
By Connie Lannan
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What to do about troubling behavior in the workplace

‘If you see something, say something’

News reports abound regarding disgruntled employees who enter a business and gun down colleagues. Does that deadly act just happen or might there have been signs someone may have noticed beforehand?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security highlights employee behaviors that could be indicators of potential violence — everything from depression/withdrawal and increased mood swings to increased use of alcohol or illegal drugs, to name just a few. If you noticed behavioral changes in one of your colleagues, would you know what to do? What responsibilities do you have as a rental operator?

Rental Management asked the American Rental Association’s (ARA) human resources partner, Ogletree Deakins, for assistance in this matter. Luther Wright, of counsel with the firm’s Learning Solutions team, offered these tips:

Always report behaviors to the designated person in the organization. “Reporting the behavior allows the organization to recognize repeated incidents or behavior patterns that might be helpful in preventing violence,” Wright says.

Don’t dismiss behaviors as a joke. “We believe in the principle of ‘If you see something, say something.’ We believe the only wrong choice is saying nothing when you witness concerning behavior. There have been too many instances where employees have failed to report troubling behaviors that could have given employers a chance to prevent loss of life or significant injury. Employees should never dismiss warning signs or fail to address the behaviors they witness because they seem trivial,” Wright says.

Take appropriate steps. Wright says recognizing behaviors is not enough. Rental operators need to act by implementing the following:

Create and consistently enforce the organization’s Workplace Violence Policy. The policy should address the definition of workplace violence, the organization’s position on bullying behavior, the reporting expectations and mechanisms within the organization, and how the organization will respond to acts of violence and support victims of workplace violence.

Implement a crisis management team (CMT). This should be a cross-disciplinary team of workplace leaders who are well-trained in the early warning signs of potential violence, intervention techniques, and internal and external resources available to your employees.

Provide consistent training, particularly of frontline supervisors. All persons in the organization should be trained on the warning signs of violence, reporting concerns about workplace violence and the organization’s active violence plan.

Make sure contractors, customers, vendors and other third parties read and sign your Workplace Violence Policy. There has to be one standard of behavior in the organization that includes third parties who interact with your employees.

Ensure the plan is known to employees. Your location should have an active violence plan akin to the plans that you have for fires and weather emergencies. Employees are three times more likely to be confronted with a violent act than a fire. The Run. Hide. Fight. protocol is recommended. They should do all they can to survive a violent altercation.

Connie Lannan

Connie LannanConnie Lannan

Connie Lannan is special projects editor for Rental Management. She helps plan, coordinate, write and edit ARA’s quarterly regional newsletters, In Your Region. She also researches, writes and edits news and feature articles for Rental Management, Rental Pulse, supplements, special reports and other special projects. Outside of work, she loves to bake for others, go for walks with her husband and volunteer for her church and causes she believes in.

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