"Management By Walking Around" and Workplace Violence
I can't help but think about the most recent workplace violence at YouTube. It is shocking and sad to say the least. Business leaders woke up today undoubtedly thinking about how to prevent this sort of scenario in their own companies. For me, it begs the question "do you really know what your staff is thinking?" Are you using all of the tools available to understand employee sentiment and provide a safe avenue for each individual to express themselves and their awareness of what's happening in their workplace?
One of the key themes of my career in Human Resources was the importance of knowing what the pulse of the workforce was. We used to call it "MBWA" or Management By Walking Around. This was and continues to be a critical concept in the world of business and at least should be in the world of HR professionals. The idea is that we are not driving our knowledge of potentially unknown workforce issues by sitting at a desk dreaming up lofty ideas, but through constant interaction directly with employees. It was a very good way to sense problems brewing in the workplace.
The complexity and demands on both HR and line leadership has and continues to grow. Although it is still critical to have a strong employee relations presence, technology has allowed advancements in this area not necessarily achievable 20 years ago. The old employee survey practices have now become formal employee engagement measurement systems with amazing web platforms. The ability to gather, compile and correlate mass data directly from employees in a non-biased manner has become a reality. "Anecdotal" has now become fact-based, and those facts have been studied and correlated with higher business performance and fewer safety incidents. Companies with higher employee engagement metrics outperform their competitors in a broad range of categories including shareholder return, profit, employee turnover, to name a few. The business case exists for this added layer of measurement, but the bigger question I continue to think about is centered around reduction of safety incidents, and ultimately workplace violence? The answer I keep coming back to is the more we make it our business to use all tools available to know and understand the pulse of our workforce, the more likely we will be able to get in front of potential workplace violence events. Thoughts?