DiscoverCounselor Toolbox PodcastViolence Prevention in the Workplace
Violence Prevention in the Workplace

Violence Prevention in the Workplace

Update: 2019-08-02


Violence Prevention in the Workplace

CEUs available at:

Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, PhD, LPC-MHSP

Executive Director: AllCEUs Counselor Education

Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox, Case Management Toolbox

Based in Part on

– Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (2012). Managing and Mitigating Conflict in Health-care Teams. Toronto, Canada: Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.

– Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). Preventing violence, harassment and bullying against health workers. 2nd ed. Toronto (ON): RNAO; 2019.


– Define types of violence in the workplace

– Explore best practices for prevention

Types of Violence

– Type I (Criminal intent): perpetrator has no relationship to the workplace

– Type II (Client or customer): perpetrator is a client at the workplace who becomes violent toward a worker or another client

– Type III (Worker-to-worker): perpetrator is an employee or past employee of the workplace

– Type IV (Personal relationship): perpetrator usually has a relationship with an employee (e.g. domestic violence in the workplace)

– Type V (Worker-to-client): perpetrator is an employee who becomes violent towards a client

Violence in the workplace

– Involves a misuse of power and control and it may take the form of physical, psychological or sexual abuse; and/or harassment, mobbing, bullying, or aggression.

– May involve action or withholding action.

– May be done unintentionally or intentionally.

– Often involves interactions between people in different roles and power relationships

– Is inevitable in the work setting due to inherent differences in goals, needs, desires, responsibilities, perceptions and ideas

Conflict Inevitability

– Conflict is inevitable in work settings.

– Perceived and actual differences that may contribute to conflict include:

– Professional identity and/or education

– Cultural identity

– Gender and gender identity

– Marital status

– Disability

– Work values

– Goals

– Interests

– Treatment approach

Other Factors Contributing To Conflict

– Effects of shift work

– Team composition and size

– Workload and staffing

– Role ambiguity

– Manager span of control

– Power differences

– Level of staff involvement in decision-making and provision of care

– Resource allocation

– Diversity in the workplace

– Physical space

– Diagnoses/stressors in the person’s life

Underpinnings of Violence Prevention

– Leadership is required across all organizational levels to create environments that practice management and mitigation of conflict.

– All conflict has a meaning and/or contributing underlying cause.

– Anger is often a response to a threat of loss of control, rejection, isolation, failure, the unknown

– Understanding, mitigating and managing conflict may result in positive outcomes such as new ideas and initiatives.

– Conflict is addressed in different ways depending upon who the conflict is with

Systems & Processes to Minimize Conflict

– Regular assessments (clients, employees, team, org)

– Improve emotional intelligence

– Develop conflict management skills

– Educate individuals, teams, and the organization regarding conflict management in specific settings and target groups.

– OP, detox, CSU, Alzheimer’s, psychosis, home visits, SOs

– Staff on staff; staff on client; client on staff

– Implementing refresher courses and/or updates

– Require managers to demonstrate accountability for effective conflict management, clear communication and transformational leadership

Transformational Leadership

– Leader works with teams to identify needed change and create a vision to guide the change

– Highlighting important priorities and creating win/win

– Connecting the follower's sense of identity to a project and to the collective identity of the organization

– Being a role model inspire and to raise their interest in the project

– Challenging followers to take ownership of their work

– Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers

Transformational Leadership

– Aligning followers with tasks that enhance their performance

– Creating an ethical climate (share values, high ethical standards)

– Encouraging followers to look beyond self to the common good

– Promoting cooperation and harmony

– Using persuasive appeals based on reason

– Providing individual coaching and mentoring for followers

– Allowing freedom of choice for followers

Systems & Processes That Minimize Conflict

– Foster intra and interprofessional collaboration

– Engage clients in

– Develop a culture that supports

– Practice accountability

– Autonomy

– Reflection

– Self-awareness

– Decision authority related to the work environment and patient care

Systems & Processes That Minimize Conflict

– Sustain effective staffing and workloads

– Ensure a climate of appreciation, trust and respect

– Value the potential positive outcomes of conflict

– Identify common situations that are likely to lead to conflict including

– Establish a safe environment to express diverse opinions

Systems & Processes That Minimize Conflict

– Examine how your behavior impacts others and how the behavior of others impacts you.

– Practice and collaborate with team members in a manner that fosters respect, trust and prevents violence.

– Refrain from gossiping, bullying (bus), harassment, or socially isolating others

– Fully adhere to organizational policies, procedures and practices related to preventing, identifying and responding to workplace violence.

– Follow organizational processes related to mandatory reporting, seeking support and providing support to others when potentially violent situations are identified or occur.

Systems & Processes That Minimize Conflict

– Ensure open communication

– Provide constructive support and feedback

– Set clear and objective goals for client care

– Use a transparent decision-making process

– Encourage active participation on the team

– Emphasize the notion that the work environment is created by each member of the team (from administrative staff to the CEO)

Conflict Management Skills

– Remain relaxed and calm

– Focus on the present

– Identify the issue(s).

– What is the real problem-

– Pick your battles

– Is your perception of the problem different-

– Perceptions + Experiences + Priorities = Point of View #1

– Perceptions + Experiences + Priorities = Point of View #2

– Allow the other person to express their concern.

– Examine your part

– Empathize

– Pay attention to nonverbals

– Recognize your own emotions

– Acknowledge and take responsibility for your part in the situation

– Use open, honest and transparent communication.

– Handle conflict sooner not later

– Seek a resolution through compromise

Self-Care Related to Conflict

– Seek support.

– Obtain information.

– Provide support to others.

– Listen, ask questions, and commit to resolving the conflict.

– Choose to listen and learn – both to your own internal voice and to the voice of your colleague or the client.

– Explore options to deal with conflict

– Separate problems from people

– Explore the reasons for your own reactions when in conflict.

– Learn from difficult behaviors

Signs of Potential Threat

– Abusive language or aggressive statements

– Agitation, restlessness or pacing

– Anxiety

– Auditory/visual hallucinations

– Cognitive impairment

– Drug/alcohol intoxication/withdrawal or a history of SUD

– History of violence/positive attitudes toward violence

– Mumbling

– Prolonged or intense glaring

– Resistance to staff

Signs of Potential Threat

– High levels of stress or triggers of stress

– Lack of space/privacy

– Poor self-care and functioning (such as poor hygiene or lack of orderliness)

– Poor social functioning and limited life skills

– Social isolation

Signs of Potential Threat

– Client Specific

– admission to new, unfamiliar environment

– being in isolation room

– quality of treatment/care received

– use of restraints

– Homelessness


– Staring

– Tone

– Anxiety/Agitation

– Mumbling

– Pacing

– Emotions—dysphoric

– Disease process (intoxication, psychosis, cognitive impairment)

– Assertive/nonassertive

– Resources (staff knowledge, wait times, inappropriate communication)


– Assume a calm, firm stance

– Speak in a clear voice but calmly and at normal volume.

– Acknowledge feelings and paraphrase what the person is saying

– Do not interrupt or try to problem-solve until the person has calmed down.

– Take care not to sound patronizing or sarcastic.

– Once they are calmer, ask what they want to have happen and how they might go about seeking a solution


– Recognize the inherent worth of all with whom you work.

– Eliminate derogatory words and phrases from your vocabulary.

– Speak with people – not at them – or about them.

– Practice empathy. Walk awhile in others’ shoes.

– Earn the respect of colleagues and co-workers through your behaviours.

– consider your impact on others before speaking and acting.

– Treat everyone with dignity and courtesy.


– Conflict is inevitable

– Violence prevention involves

– Creating an environment that supports open communication and respect

– Maintaining self awareness of stressors and our impact on others

– Maintaining awareness of other’s reactions, behaviors and stressors

– Educating staff and clients regarding effective conflict resolution strategies

– Minimizing triggers for conflict

– Being willing to learn from conflict









Violence Prevention in the Workplace

Violence Prevention in the Workplace

Charles Snipes