ValueOptions® Expert: Proactive Use of EAP Can Help Prevent Workplace Violence

Aug 10, 2010, 10:46 ET from ValueOptions, Inc.

NORFOLK, Va., Aug. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The mass shooting at a Connecticut beer distributor last week serves as yet another "grim wake-up call" for employers to establish a violence prevention policy and to train the workforce on this critical issue, said Rich Paul, vice president of Health & Performance Solutions at ValueOptions®, the nation's leading independent behavioral health and wellness company.

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"Employers need to be heard loud and clear that they won't tolerate the precursors to outright violence -- workers who treat others poorly, intimidate or speak harshly," Paul said.

Companies should consider leveraging their Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAP professionals can proactively communicate with and educate workers about the warning signs of potential acts of violence. They also can help an employer handle issues such as terminations, layoffs or domestic violence cases that have the potential to spill over into the workplace, Paul said.

Managers and supervisors can be the first line of defense in identifying warning signs in employees at risk for acts of violence.  Understanding how to make an early referral to the EAP is critical in preventing issues from escalating to a point that results in violence.

Although mass shootings often receive media coverage, there are many incidents that receive little or no coverage. In 2008, there were 528 workplace homicides in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The EAP should be involved," Paul said, "not just in helping develop the violence prevention plan or as part of an organization's crisis response team, but proactively in addressing issues before they result in workplace violence."

About ValueOptions®, Inc.

ValueOptions®, Inc., the nation's largest independent behavioral health and wellness company, provides services to more than 23 million individuals through a variety of contracts with state and county agencies and, additionally, with health plans and employers. ValueOptions® specializes in management for all behavioral health issues and promotes health and wellness through innovative programs. The mission of ValueOptions® is to improve the health and wellness for the people it serves.

SOURCE ValueOptions, Inc.