Workplace violence is a terrifying reality for business owners and can seem to strike without warning. While no one can ever eliminate the possibility of an incident, knowing the warning signs of a potentially aggressive employee can help managers prevent workplace violence.

Difficulty getting along with others

Supervisors should pay attention to employees that have difficulty getting along with others. Those who frequently make inappropriate remarks to their coworkers are at a higher risk of engaging in worker-on-worker violence.

These employees may exhibit controlling behaviors and may have difficulties with change. They may also be obsessed with military or paramilitary groups and law enforcement. They may even own multiple firearms. Management should be cautious when dealing with these employees, especially in cases of termination.


Management should also be on the lookout for employees who exhibit paranoid behaviors. If an employee frequently expresses thoughts that their coworkers, employer, the government, and family are “out to get them”, it may be an indication that they are predisposed toward lashing out when confronted with disciplinary action or termination.

Always the victim

Employees who are unable to accept responsibility for their actions may be at a higher risk of perpetrating workplace violence. These employees blame others for their mistakes and have great difficulty accepting responsibility for the loss of a job, a demotion, or reprimand.

Quick to anger

This may seem obvious, but managers should be careful terminating or disciplining employees that are easily angered. With these workers situations can be blown out of proportion, and they could be quick to take legal action.

Violent and vengeful

Employees who applaud acts of violence, with the mentality that “they got what they deserved”, may be cause for concern for management. These employees may also be predisposed to seeing potential targets of their own violence as deserving of what’s coming to them.

Recent termination

If you are planning to terminate, or have recently terminated, an employee exhibiting any of the above traits, your safety team should be on high alert for a potentially violent response. At times employees can wrap their personal identity with their professional identify; and loss of their position can be enough to push them over the edge.

Your partner in safety

Keeping your workforce safe is priority one for your company, and our safety experts are here to help you accomplish that. Sheakley’s Workforce Management Services provides regular training and education to keep you and your team updated on safety issues.

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