J. J. Keller® Compliance Network Logo
Start Customizing Your Profile for Free!
Update to Professional Trial!

Experience Everything Compliance Network Has to Offer

Already have an account?
Thank you for investing in EnvironmentalHazmat related content. Click 'UPGRADE' to continue.
Enjoy your limited-time access to the Compliance Network Professional Trial!
A confirmation welcome email has been sent to your email address from ComplianceNetwork@t.jjkellercompliancenetwork.com. Please check your spam/junk folder if you can't find it in your inbox.
Thank you for your interest in EnvironmentalHazmat related content.
You've reached your limit of free access, if you'd like more info, please contact us at 800-327-6868.

The post-holiday blues can turn into workplace violence


Seasonal depression and employee morale are often negatively impacted during the deep winter months. Overwhelming sadness can be manifested during and after the holiday season, and many employers openly conduct safety meetings acknowledging seasonal depression. This is also an appropriate time to discuss your company’s workplace violence policy.

The seasonal blues could manifest in negative behaviors (short temper, desperation, drug or alcohol use, etc.) which might become a workplace violence incident.

Assess the threat

It is generally accepted that physical assaults and egregious verbal threats in the workplace warrant immediate termination. However, complaints involving veiled or indirect threats are often mischaracterized and not investigated. Your employees should feel protected at work, so treat all perceived threats seriously.

When an employee files a complaint, quickly establish communication and initiate an investigation. This will eliminate false perceptions that your company is turning a blind eye or ignoring the problem. The process of interviewing all parties, collecting written statements, and evaluating company policy should be conveyed to the employee.

Threat assessment involves understanding the relationship between conflicting employees and the circumstances of the situation. Was the veiled threat made in a joking manner? Does the employee have a history of concerning behavior? Speak with their immediate supervisor to gain additional insight about previous disciplinary issues. If an immediate threat is not imminent, prepare to respond and conduct interviews.

Conduct effective interviews

Successful interviews ensure that all relevant information is obtained, so do not focus on solving the case during the interview process. Focus on these tips during the interview phase of the investigation:

  • Conduct individual interviews to maintain confidentiality,
  • Allow employees to speak openly and without interruption,
  • Avoid accusatory and confrontational questions, and
  • Ask witnesses how they perceived the threat.

Effective interviews produce reliable information that supports management decisions involving employee misconduct, policy violations, and disciplinary measures. The investigator should prepare a written summary of the investigation with recommended action items. The investigative report should summarize the information for each employee statement and assess the credibility of evidence.

After discussing the investigation with upper management, arrange individual meetings with the involved employees. If appropriate, issue written progressive discipline to the offending employee and explain your company’s policy on workplace violence. If the violation does not warrant termination, clearly communicate that repeat violations will likely result in immediate termination.

Key to remember: Speak to your employees about seasonal depression while conveying a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence.