coronavirus COVID-19

Workplace Violence and Coronavirus Disease – 2021

Megan Keenan News, Workplace Violence


“We’re beginning to realize that coronavirus disease, COVID-19, will be an event burned into our minds and hearts for generations.”

This was written by Chris Peterson, former President of Protus3, in March 2020. Little did we know then just how much COVID-19 would affect us and change who we are.

“Most of our workforce today has nothing by which to judge this pandemic. No sentinel event in our lifetime was so widespread that it had the ability to change all aspects of our daily lives for such a duration.” We’ve been reacting to COVID for almost two years, but there are still some people who do not have the appropriate resources to navigate their changing circumstances.

So what do we do with this stress? What do we do with this uncertainty? What do we do when we find ourselves not wanting to come back into the office when we have been working remotely for over a year but its mandated? What do we do when every other employee in an office is not vaccinated when we feel strongly about it? Or when an employee is fired because the company makes it mandatory?

We get unsettled, irritated, frustrated. We make poor decisions. We forget who we are. No one is immune to making a bad decision when under stress. This stat remains the same: “90% of our decision-making process is based on what we can rationalize.” We get desperate and bad decisions are made.

As a security consulting firm, we want to help organizations to be prepared for all the different scenarios that might occur. If you have any questions or want more information about workplace violence, please contact us.

So what can we each do as individuals, co-workers, managers, and executives to support best outcomes for the people we work with?
At the highest level, employees are looking for leadership, compassion, and a sense of community.
  • Be honest with employees, but also remind employees that they are a part of a larger community.
  • Be seen and be heard.
  • Communicate vision and leadership. Focus on the welfare and encouragement of the employees.
  • We are in this together.
Every company should have a multi-disciplined risk assessment team.
  • These are the people who know who is at risk and which departments or employees may need additional resources/support.
  • If a particular department is critical and has a lot of parents of school age children or younger, childcare support will be critical. Can the company help support this need?
  • Do you have an older employee population? Do they have special needs?
  • If layoffs are inevitable, how can you support employees seek resources such as unemployment and other government assistance? If the company can’t provide wages, can it do something else? Maybe open a food pantry for employees?
  • This team needs to have the authority to develop and deploy customized responses to departmental and individual issues.
Managers and supervisors should be talking with individual employees, by phone if not in person. In addition, they should be communicating via other media resources.  This is necessary to support team members and identify potential issues.
  • Know that employees want to be heard and know they are not forgotten.
  • Equip managers and supervisors with information about EAP programs so that they can remind employees that there are resources in place to support them.
  • Provide managers and supervisors with information that they can share with employees on benefits, unemployment options, anything that can support employees and create a sense of support and/or community.
  • Provide training and resources to managers and supervisors to be able to identify employees who may become a threat to the company or who are making threatening statements. Always treat these statements as a red flag. Report these statements to HR, security, manager, or whomever the company designates.
    • Employees are the most at risk when multiple areas of their lives are off the tracks. When we feel like we are a valuable part of our personal and professional community, we can weather significant upheaval and chaos. However, this can change when things get off the tracks in multiple areas, especially when compounded by physical or mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse.
    • Managers/supervisors and co-workers are critical to the ability of any company to conduct threat assessments. They can identify and deploy resources that protect the organization.

Workplace violence is one of those security events that we want to believe will not happen. The effect that coronavirus will have on our employee populations will be significant and will extend for months if not years.

Now is the time to take steps to support employees and our community by providing information, leadership, resources, sympathy, and kindness. It will pay dividends for all of us and support a stronger, more resilient community of the future.