Treating Workplace Violence Prevention Just Like Any Other Employee Training

by Jeffrey M. Miller SPS, DTI

employee training workplace violence awareness

As a leader, when you think about employee training – any type of training – what is the single most important factor you consider? Better results, yes?

That’s why you invest in employee training of all types. Regardless whether it’s training in Microsoft Word for your office staff, Excel for your accounting department, lock out-tag-out for your electrical and maintenance people, or any number of other general or specialized employee training… the goal is focused on getting better performance, having less accidents, seeing more accurate numbers, or saving money that could be better spent elsewhere, etc.

And this would seem to hold true for employee training designed to make yourself and your employees more safe from the threat of a workplace violence incident occurring within your department or company itself.

But, is it?

The reason I ask is because I continue to see companies and government agencies of all sizes spending time, effort, and resources on stand-alone “Workplace Violence Prevention & Awareness” classes and employee training sessions. But, from a big-picture perspective on not only “doing something” about the problem of workplace violence, but in actually framing the problem properly so that the solution created serves to produce the desired outcome, which is a workplace – your workplace – that is as safe and as prepared as possible against the threat of an act of violence in the workplace.

So, from that big-picture perspective, that begs the question:

“Does a workplace violence awareness and prevention training session make your workplace more safe… tomorrow, and every day after your employees have gone through the training?”

And, the answer is… maybe.


This question may sound strange because I do conduct, or at least facilitate, this type of training with and for my clients. It may even sound like I’m talking myself out of potential work. But I’m not, and you’ll see why in a moment. Because it also comes back to outcomes and effectiveness, as-well-as the proper timing and placement of this type of employee training within your overall workplace safety and emergency management plan.


An Often Overlooked Piece of the Solution Equation

First, let’s take a quick look at a few “numbers,” and the reality of what’s going on in a typical workplace violence awareness and prevention training session, regardless as to whether it’s done in a classroom or online individually by each employee. These numbers revolve around the percentages of your employees participating and their actual level of engagement.

Now, if you don’t care about the end result of the training and only about being able to log that John Smith and Sally Jones attended Friday’s 1pm training in their employee files, and not whether or not John, Sally, you, or anyone else who works for you is actually any safer as a result of the training… stop reading. I can’t help you.

No worries though. There are plenty of other consultant/trainers who will sell you that type of “feel-good” training.


Things to Consider When It Comes to Employee Training,
Especially When It Comes to Protection from Violence…

But, if you want a different end result from a workplace violence employee training program, then consider that in this type of training session:


  • Only a few of your people in the training will actually care about the issue and want to learn how to prevent, deter, or protect themselves should something occur.
  • The only concern of many of them is that they’re getting paid, not about the topic itself.
  • Several have the belief that the training is “stupid” and a “waste of time,” because this will never happen to them.
  • Due to the fact that the training was conducted as a one-off, “band-aid” approach to the subject, almost all of them will have forgotten both what they learned, not to mention the problem itself, within 72 hours afterward.
  • And practically none of them will be able to correctly implement anything they learn in their workplace tomorrow.

I’ll explain why this last one is true shortly.


So… Is Workplace Violence Awareness and Prevention Training Worthless?

But first, does this mean that this kind of training is a waste of your time and effort in setting it up, and a waste of company money?


All of this means that this is a waste of money if it’s not framed properly, is conducted without recognizing the above truths, not scheduled at the proper place within your system roll out, and…

…not made very personal for your people to take seriously enough to be a part of the solution you’re putting in place!

This is one of the reasons why whoever is conducting your training should be sure to add case studies that highlight either actual events that have occurred in your company already, or real-world events that have occurred in companies just like yours and in the same type of geographical location.

For instance, a training I conducted for the general employee population of a mid-sized manufacturing company (AFTER security, supervisors, and the Threat Assessment and Core Response Teams were trained) included several slides detailing actual, real-world, attacks that occurred in companies just like theirs. And, those case studies were of companies in the same type of semi-rural, small town, “quiet areas,” just like the ones where these employees lived and worked in.


Being Made Aware of Something is Not the Same as Being Trained to DO That Thing!

Another reason, one that I alluded to earlier, that sending your employees to a workplace violence awareness and prevention training program could be a waste of time, effort, and money – especially a canned or slightly tailored presentation – is that merely providing “tips” and suggestions, rather than specifically designed, step-by-step procedures to your employees – to people who are not security-minded and who lack the real-world experience at handling actual danger and violence – and then sending them back to work to figure it all out for themselves, is more often than not like throwing your car keys to a six year old and telling them to drive to the store!

To be clear, awareness and prevention training IS and important part of your overall workplace violence prevention and mitigation policy and plan, as long as it is positioned properly within both the system, and scheduled at the appropriate time during the roll-out of the overall system or changes to it itself. This big-picture perspective about not just the problem, but also the often unseen factors like those discussed here, is a critical first step needed to produce the correct custom solution, if we’re to produce the desired outcome together.


The Next Step…

Jeffrey M. Miller SPS, DTI

If you’re ready to discuss your concerns, needs, or just schedule a capabilities briefing (online or in-person) to see how WCI Consulting can help you to protect yourself, your people, and your company, simply complete the contact form HERE, or call my office at 570-884-1119 to speak with me directly.

I look forward to helping you in creating a customized workplace violence employee training plan that works – one that works to protect you, your people, and your company from the loss and damage from workplace violence – before, during, and after a potential attack.


About The Author

Jeffrey M. Miller SPS, DTI is the principle consultant of WCI Consulting. He is an internationally-recognized author, speaker, and expert on the subjects of conflict resolution, personal safety, and self-protection. Jeff uses his 40+ years of knowledge and real-world experience in dealing with and protecting others against violence, coupled with his understanding of the concerns and issues organizational leaders face, to help his partner clients see the true scope and cost of the problems they face. His value is in helping you to properly frame things in a way that allows for the creation and implementation of effective, efficient, and results-driven solutions that insure greater workplace safety, reduces direct and indirect losses that effect your bottom line, and protect the reputations of both company leadership and client companies themselves.


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