Understanding Lone Wolf Violence in the Workplace

Employees who plan and commit acts of violence alone often exhibit warning signs.

Posted by Timothy Dimoff in on June 7th, 2016

John W. Hargrove wrote in Employer Liability for the Lone Wolf that when so-called “lone wolf” employees commit acts of violence in the workplace, employers often wonder if something could have been done.

What can you do to prevent violence by a lone wolf? The first step in preventing lone wolf violence is in understanding it and what motivates it. As you may have guessed, lone wolf violence is a perpetrator of violence who acts alone. A lone-wolf violent offender plans and carries out an attack without assistance or organizational support.

Lone wolves generally are not driven to violence by an ideological cause, but usually have other issues that may include mental health problems or outside stressors such as losing their job or a problem at home. The main thing you must consider is will this person will act violently?

Characteristics of a Lone Wolf Offender

Not surprisingly, many lone wolves have experienced personal crises.
There are several characteristics that may be taken into account when trying to define a lone wolf offender:

  • Do they harbor a perceived grievance? This can include anger at a co-worker or manager, feeling they weren’t treated fairly, feeling they were bullied, etc.
  • Are they depressed? Mental health issues are a huge concern. Depression can lead to a feeling that they have nothing to lose or that they will get some sort of satisfaction from committing the violence.
  • Are they experiencing a personal crisis? Not surprisingly, many lone wolves have experienced personal crises. These may include a messy divorce or custody battle, financial issues, or perhaps drugs or alcohol may be involved.

What You Can Do

Implement security measures, training, and monitoring. Document any incidents, including witnesses, to minimize your liability exposure.
What can you do to protect your workplace and your employees? While random tragedies sometimes occur, often there are warning signs. Make note if you have employees who are behaving strangely, or are experiencing anger or frustration which is becoming a problem.

Develop a workplace violence prevention plan, which involves performing an assessment of the lone wolf scenario. If you don’t know how to do that, hire an outside firm to help you.

Implement security measures, training, and monitoring. Document any incidents, including witnesses, to minimize your liability exposure.

In responding to these situations, always err on the side of caution and prioritize the safety of employees, customers, and the public, keeping in mind that once you realize you have a problem, you may never get a second chance to address it.

 


Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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