Disruptive workplace behaviors addressed in new website

The Johns Hopkins Joint Risk Assessment Team launched in April a redesigned Safe at Hopkins website to help recognize Workplace Violence Awareness Month.

The revamped website emphasizes prevention, early intervention, and a shared responsibility of faculty, staff, and students to report disruptive behaviors before they escalate.

A focus on prevention and early intervention emerged from the work of a Joint Risk Assessment Team subcommittee that formed in 2010. The subcommittee—led by Michelle Carlstrom, senior director of the Office of Work, Life and Engagement and a member of the Joint RATeam—studied data from research, recent workplace cases, and other risk assessment models. Its review led to an expanded range of disruptive workplace behaviors, lists of specific actions for each behavior from RATeam cases, and recommendations for expanding the risk assessment process.

"When a threatening or violent act occurs at Johns Hopkins, the risk assessment process often finds clear places where early intervention could have prevented the behaviors," Carlstrom says.

The revamped site, http://safeathopkins.org, features the recently crafted Johns Hopkins Continuum of Disruptive Workplace Behaviors, which includes inappropriate behavior, disrespectful behavior, mild bullying, moderate to severe bullying, stalking, domestic/intimate partner violence, stated threats, and physical violence and death. The continuum can be used as a tool by individuals who are concerned about behaviors directed at them or others, supervisors for employees they manage, human resources representatives, and the Joint Risk Assessment Team.

The site is organized into five sections: recognize, prevent, respond, refer, and communicate. Faculty, staff, and students can use the site to better understand the range of disruptive workplace behaviors; consider how to respond proactively so that concerning behaviors do not escalate; determine whom to contact about concerning behaviors; and learn about the Workplace Risk Assessment Program, which helps victims, bystanders, and the individuals responsible for the disruptive behaviors get the support they need.

All faculty, staff, and students are responsible for contributing to a safe workplace and academic environment, Carlstrom says. One way to meet this responsibility is to identify safety concerns early and report them to a supervisor or manager, human resources office, academic adviser, or dean of student affairs.

Shawn Celio, assistant director for human resources at the School of Medicine, says, "Human Resources is often contacted to provide urgent assistance to complex and sensitive situations. Partnering with the RATeam provides staff and managers a fair, diligent, and prudent process to cope with the consequences of disruptive workplace behaviors. Our collaborative mission must be that understanding the continuum of violence and intervening early on as a team is our best opportunity to prevent behavior from escalating into violence."

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