Podcast: Prevent and prepare for workplace violence

Written on Mar 21, 2019

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

Thinking that workplace violence is something that happens somewhere else is a mentality that could put you and your employees at risk.

Beham“Unfortunately, you see it a lot in the news these days,” said Wesley Beham, CPA, partner at Gilmore Jasion Mahler.

Beham joined OSCPA on the latest episode of The State of Business podcast to outline two panel discussions – one in Maumee and one in Findlay – GJM held last month on the topic of workplace violence.

GJM for about five years has held roundtables for financial executives on topics like social media, cybersecurity and workplace development issues. The firm hosted experts from the areas of law enforcement, insurance and mental health to offer their perspectives.

Safety procedures for tornado and fire drills are standard, Beham said, but it’s time companies develop plans for workplace violence and active shooter situations as well.

“Kids that are graduating high school, they know all about training for an active shooter,” Beham said. “Soon in the workplace, they’ll want to know what that plan is, and here’s what we do, here’s the exits and here’s how we communicate.”

Ellyn Schmeising, executive director at FOCUS: Recovery & Wellness Center in Findlay spoke at the panel and mentioned the importance of having a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any type of workplace violence. This includes what some might consider smaller aggressions, like bullying an employee or hitting an inanimate object.

“If those aren’t responded to and the employer chalks it up to someone having a bad day, the power shifts away from the supervisor and the organization,” she said. “Because people are reacting in fear to them rather than acting out of a constructive place.”

Often when workplace violence comes up it is linked to mental health conversations. Schmeising stressed the importance of creating an environment where employees have an opportunity to cope with stressors in their life and focusing on their emotional wellbeing.

Mental health discussions can make people feel awkward or uncomfortable, especially in the workplace, but she said training can go a long way in helping to open those conversations and create an opportunity for action.

“Every workplace should have a policy,” Schmeising said. “And every workplace should think through what this could look like in the workplace and consider a way to prevent it.”

Listen to the full episode now to hear more about how companies should prepare for workplace violence.

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