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Integrating Workplace Violence Prevention into Harassment Prevention Training Programs

Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention

In today's dynamic and diverse workplace environments, ensuring the safety and well-being of employees is paramount. While many organizations recognize the importance of harassment prevention training, not all understand the necessity of integrating workplace violence prevention into these programs. The lines between harassment and violence can often blur, and neglecting one aspect can inadvertently compromise the safety and culture of the organization. Here's why employers should consider merging these two critical training components into their required harassment prevention training.

1. Overlapping Risk Factors. Both harassment and workplace violence can stem from similar root causes, such as:

  • Power imbalances

  • Unaddressed grievances

  • Ongoing conflict

  • Abusive conduct / Bullying

  • Intolerance towards diversity

  • Misunderstanding

  • Poor communication

By addressing these root causes holistically, employers can simultaneously deter both harassment and potential acts of violence.

2. Proactive Prevention. Training that solely focuses on harassment may overlook key indicators or warning signs of potential violence. Employees should be trained to recognize these signs in their colleagues, such as threats, erratic behavior, or extreme reactions to workplace policies or disputes. By integrating violence prevention into harassment training, employees become more vigilant and empowered to report unusual or worrisome behaviors.

3. Comprehensive Understanding. A singular focus on either harassment or violence can lead to a fragmented understanding of workplace misconduct. Employees should understand the spectrum of inappropriate behaviors, from verbal harassment to physical violence, to better identify and report any violations.

4. Enhanced Employee Confidence. When employees are trained comprehensively on both harassment and violence prevention, they feel more confident in their ability to navigate and report challenging situations. This not only increases the safety of the workplace but can also boost morale and employee satisfaction.

5. Legal Implications. Neglecting the integration of workplace violence prevention can expose organizations to significant legal risks. Beyond the immediate harm caused, the legal repercussions and potential for damages due to negligence can be severe. Employers are obligated to provide a safe working environment, and this encompasses more than just harassment-free spaces. Beginning 7/1/2024, California’s SB 553 will require workplace violence prevention plans (and annual training on the plan). It won’t be long for other states to follow course.

6. Improved Reporting Mechanisms. By training employees on both harassment and violence prevention, organizations can streamline their reporting processes and reduce employee confusion on a growing myriad of compliance topics. This ensures that any form of misconduct is promptly reported, assessed, and addressed appropriately.

7. Building a Unified Culture. An integrated approach to prevention signals a unified stance against all forms of misconduct. It sets clear expectations for behavior, fostering a culture of respect, safety, and professionalism.

Training Tip: Increase the training duration of your harassment prevention training program by approximately 30 minutes for both employees and leaders so that workplace violence can be adequately integrated into the content. Be sure to include the following in that added time:

  • The actual workplace violence plan

  • Definitions, including the four types of workplace violence

  • Reporting concerns to employer or law enforcement without fear retaliation

  • Examples of hazards specific to an employee’s position

  • Strategies to avoid personal harm

  • Information on the violence incident log

Workplace safety and well-being are not just about physical safety but also psychological and emotional well-being. By integrating workplace violence prevention into harassment training programs, employers can provide a comprehensive safety net for their employees. This proactive approach not only reduces risks but also fosters a more positive, inclusive, and respectful workplace environment.

Talent Authority is here to help!

We’ve been delivering harassment prevention training since 2001 and can customize any of our content to meet your organization’s needs, including compliance with harassment and workplace violence prevention training. We offer training in English and Spanish from front-line employee to top executive.


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