27 Aug 6 Ways To Keep Your Workplace Safer

One week ago, security expert Paul Viollis invited me to join his showto talk about workplace violence. Coincidentally, the interview was yesterday, only hours after the tragic on-air shooting in Virginia. We talked about ways that employers and employees can keep their workplaces safer, and the steps you can take to help protect your own office environment from tragedy.


When you are an employer, you have a cultural canvas awaiting you. It is your opportunity to decide what kind of environment you want to create for your employees. We have all been in a store where every employee has an awful attitude. Then we meet the manager who is even grumpier and we walk out thinking that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. What kind of employer you are determines what kind of employees you hire and retain.

1. Create A Safe, Non-Fear-Based Environment

In workplaces where there is a fear-based regime, there are secrets. Parenting provides a great metaphor; it is easy to mistakenly think that a spanking will elicit a behavioral change. While it might appear to work in the short term, the long-term ramifications are far too costly. The same goes for the workplace. When everyone is walking on eggshells, employee concerns are buried deep under the surface. This increases the risk of a sudden explosion.

2. Instill Check-Ins

Make sure that your managers are checking in with their employers regularly. Restaurateur Steve Hanson had his employees fill out forms each day to gauge how they felt. If a waiter rated his day a “three” each day and then suddenly rated two consecutive days a “one,” a manager would talk to him to find out what was wrong. The morale of your employees is not optional; it is your business.

3. Go The Extra Mile When Hiring

While we all like to trust our guts when it comes to people, studies show that some of the best executives make the worst hiring decisions. It is important to rely on background checks and references before making a hiring decision. When you check references, don’t only ask about the candidate’s ability to reach sales goals, ask for a story of when he helped a colleague or a time when she didn’t use her best judgment. Hire for character as much as skill set.

© Victor Torres | Dreamstime.com

© Victor Torres | Dreamstime.com


1. If You See Something, Say something

When you see an employee acting erratically, it is your duty to say something to a manager. The higher up an executive is, the less likely they are to know what is really happening. If you are not yet in the C-suite, you are more likely to be interacting with many different people and departments all day long. Paul Viollis shared the story of a domestic violence scare that followed a speech he gave on workplace security to a Fortune 500 company. A woman overheard a colleague talking fearfully to her boyfriend while on a break outside the building; the woman was pleading with her boyfriend not to show up at her office. The colleague reported this to Human Resources and they called the police who showed up mere minutes before the boyfriend appeared; he was armed. By speaking up, the colleague had saved the day.

2. Don’t Take On A Solo Battle

If a coworker is making you uncomfortable or harassing you in any way, report them. Engaging the perpetrator on your own can endanger you and your colleagues.

3. Keep Tabs On Your Own Mental Health

Set boundaries on your life at work by keeping a consistent schedule of arriving and leaving at a daily set time. Don’t expect your company to do this for you. As long as you are getting your work done well, you can set these parameters. This allows you to be predictable to your coworkers and your family. Once home, turn off the tech. Research shows that too much technology leads to depression, sleep disorders and mental health problems. Give yourself at least 120 minutes a day to live tech free. This is healthy for you and your loved ones. Proactively announce to your colleagues that from 6 to 8 p.m. you are with your family and in an emergency, they can reach you via your home line.

To read this article on Forbes, please click here.

Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author & corporate speaker. The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction will be released in September.