Predicting and Preventing Workplace Violence: An EAP’s Worst Nightmare

The recent tragedy involving the murders of a news reporter and camera operator on the air in Roanoke, Virginia is a reminder that workplace grievances and grudges can erupt into violence very easily, and that terminating a person’s employment can be the trigger that causes a marginally disturbed person to become violent. Taking away a person’s job not only threatens his or her sense of survival (because a job is the means we have to provide ourselves with food, clothing, and shelter), but also threatens a person’s self-image and self-worth, when being fired is equivalent to a rejection. One of the most difficult aspects of such a situation is that the breaking point may not occur when the employer and co-workers might expect it and can prepare. Often, as in this case, it simmers for months or even years before a violent incident occurs.Continue Reading Predicting and Preventing Workplace Violence: An EAP’s Worst Nightmare

Concern about Employees Means More than “Canned” Tips on a Website

McDonald’s has come under fire in recent weeks for a series of posts on an employee web portal (now deleted) which struck many people as insensitive at best and hypocritical at worst. The “tip sheets” included a health page from a university-based group of authors that cautioned readers to limit their consumption of fast foods. Other tips included financial advice to sell unused items if money is short, and at the other extreme, what to tip your au pair for the holidays. Given the company’s largely low-wage workforce –  an issue that has been receiving unflattering attention (including some strikes by workers) lately – these suggestions struck many as insulting. Some were appalled that a website for a fast-food company offered suggestions about applying for food stamps.Continue Reading Concern about Employees Means More than “Canned” Tips on a Website

Work, Justice, and Social Responsibility

Alfred Adler’s Individual Psychology views human life in terms of social connectedness, and mental health in terms of how well we are meeting the tasks of life. Adler saw these tasks as falling into three main categories: Love and intimate relationships, friendships and social connections, and work. Adlerians view the task of work in terms of making a contribution to the community. This is much more than simply earning money, because it takes into account using your talent, energy, and effort to contribute to the common good.

Adlerians have always been sensitive to issues of social justice, because social interest – the innate feeling of wanting to belong and courage to meet the tasks of life – can be thwarted by conditions that prevent a child or adult from developing a sense of feeling equal and competent. Rudolf Dreikurs (the founder of Adler School of Professional Psychology) wrote a book titled Social Equality: The Challenge of Today back in the 1960’s. That challenge is still with us in the 21st century.Continue Reading Work, Justice, and Social Responsibility