Four executive leaders needed to build a successful workplace violence prevention program

I have been asked, at various presentations and in discussion forums, how involved does the executive leadership team need to be in workplace violence prevention? My bottom-line answer is always, completely involved. I believe a robust workplace violence oversight committee is only effective if it includes some key executive leadership. Workplace violence in one of the greatest threats to the healthcare industry, it warrants the closest possible engagement of all healthcare leaders.

There are four key leaders that I would expect to be intimately involved in workplace violence prevention, the Chief Operations Officer, the Chief Human Resources Officer, the Chief Nursing Officer, and the Chief Medical Officer, Each of these leaders play an integral role in the decisions surround key avenues of organizational response. Let’s talk briefly about the impact of each discipline.

              The Chief Operations Officer (COO) is most often responsible for the policy and direction of the security and safety program through their various areas of control. Additionally, the COO typically oversees ancillary staff and would be most critical in leadership as it relates to the impact of violence on ancillary staff.

              The Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) is critical when dealing with employee to employee violence. Leadership here would certainly involve any employee disciplinary issues resulting from violence or threats of violence. Though this is a small percentage of the overall violence in healthcare, it is critical. Perhaps more importantly, the CHRO likely oversees employee health programs, and as such would be uniquely positioned to help with victim assistance and support programs for those employees who have experienced violence at work.

              The Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) represents most of the staff that experience healthcare violence, and as such the CNO’s leadership is invaluable.  Additionally, the CNO is positioned to help guide education programs and the implementation of prevention tools that will involve nursing participation to be successful. The CNO’s strength, leadership and buy in cannot be underestimated.

              Also critical is the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).  This key leadership role may be an executive position most overlook, but the CMO’s participation opens the door for a wider scope of prevention discussion. This includes more proactive treatment plans for anxiety and delirium, which often leads to violent outbursts. Violence is often a symptom of the underlying medical condition, and the CMO is well positioned to help guide provider engagement and proactive medical care. 

No matter who is at the table, the success of a workplace violence prevention program is only bolstered by the proactive engagement of healthcare leaders. A failure of executive leadership to engage in this issue is a failure to acknowledge the tremendous impact violence has on our organizations and on the people in them.

Who is involved in your workplace violence committees? How does your leadership team engage in this topic? Joint he conversation in the comments below. Please like, follow, and share to support the Proactive Security Blog.

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