Organizations can be overwhelmed after an extreme case of violence. The time to plan your response is before an incident occurs. Here are some additional considerations:

  • Centrally Coordinated Response – A team should manage the response with one person in charge. This is to make sure that messages and response efforts, both internally and externally are consistent. Even if you don’t have a formal business continuity plan or incident management team a group of people can be pulled together quickly to organize the response
  • Set Clear Objectives – Initially you may be solely focused on responding to the incident. However, you should also set a path towards resuming normal business operations. These two objects can run in parallel to each other.
  • Communicate with Staff – The Staff will undoubtedly be concerned. While it is not possible, or advised to provide specific details, you should be prepared to give enough details, so they understand how the company is responding and what their role in the response and recovery will involve.
  • Provide Support for the Human Resources Team – HR will be placed in the spotlight. In addition to payroll issues, insurance, family notifications and general staff support, they will have to deal with a lot of other items (e.g., regulatory investigations, offers of assistance from the public, trauma counseling beyond EAP).
  • Monitor the Workplace Environment – It is not uncommon for additional threat concerns to be raised. Employees will likely bring forward every concern they have ever had. Be prepared to respond to their questions. Temporarily increasing security should be something you consider. In addition, post-traumatic stress is very common in these types of incidents. Work with mental health professionals to understand how to identify and respond to these issues.
  • Provide Guidance on Interacting With Media – Designate who will be the “face of the incident” or the “Face of the Organization”, and direct all questions to them. Anticipate that every communication you distribute, whether written or verbal, will likely be forwarded to the media.
  • Consider Monitoring Social Media – We have witnessed in recent responses to workplace shootings, that some employees took pictures of the violence, and posted online while the incident was still unfolding. You may not be able to control social media interaction, but at the least you can monitor it and be prepared to respond.
  • Anticipate the Unusual – Every violent incident will be different. There will be items that need to be dealt with that are going to be different from anything you have ever had to do.
  • Support Each Other – Everybody responds differently to acts of violence. It’s important to anticipate that people will be dealing with their own fears and concerns. Watch for signs of post-traumatic stress in others and yourself.


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