Active Shooter in the Workplace

Active Shooter in the Workplace

Beau Bowman, Highflyer H.R., National Director of Sales

Retired USAF Security Specialist.

Louisiana State Constable, St Bernard Parish, Chalmette La.

Louisiana State Emergency Chaplain.

Recently I attended a First Person Active Shooter Training, for the Archdiocese where I am a member. I was then asked to develop a plan for the Church Parish & School, on how to prevent and defend against this scenario. This exercise naturally sparked some thought on the issue in our workplaces. When asking clients about the issue I was surprised by how many have not planned or trained beyond calling 911. This just will not suffice, so we took some time to put some resources together to assist you in your own business plan from sources like DHS.

In many cases, there is no pattern or method to the selection of victims by an active shooter. These situations are, by their very nature, unpredictable and evolve quickly. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers free courses, materials, and workshops to better prepare businesses, schools, places of faith and any type of organization to deal with an active shooter situation and to raise awareness of behaviors that represent pre-incident indicators and characteristics of active shooters. Below are useful resources for planning and developing your training program:

Active Shooter: What You Can Do?

The 2013 Report on the National Summit on Multiple Casualty Shootings, identified five non-linear components of mass casualty violence prevention:

•       Identifying a person posing a potential threat of violence;

•       Notifying the appropriate authorities with this information;

•       Evaluating the threat credibility;

•       Intervening to prevent the threat; and

•       Documenting the intervention and disseminating the information within applicable laws and regulations

Our focus should be on the five topics above to develop a plan for active shooters.

Threat Assessment Teams

Research shows that perpetrators of targeted acts of violence engage in both covert and overt behaviors prior to the attacks. Another resource most agencies can use to identify, evaluate, and The Threat Assessment Team’s objective is to use internal agency specialists (which could include personnel from the internal security office, Office of the Inspector General, Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer, Office of General Counsel, etc.) to prevent violence from occurring. Members are responsible for addressing threats, confronting violent behavior, and assisting in assessing potential for violence. TAT members consider, plan, prepare, share, and, in some cases, move on to action. The TAT serves as a central convening body that ensures that warning signs observed by multiple people are not considered isolated incidents and do not slip through the cracks, as they actually may represent escalating behavior that is a serious concern.

Know the Warning Indicators

Some people commit violence because of revenge, robbery or ideology – with or without a component of mental illness. While there is no way to predict an attack, you can be aware of behaviors in coworkers that might signal future violence:

·      Excessive use of alcohol or drugs

·      Unexplained absenteeism, change in behavior or decline in job performance

·      Depression, withdrawal or suicidal comments

·      Resistance to changes at work or persistent complaining about unfair treatment

·      Violation of company policies.

·      Emotional responses to criticism, mood swings

·      Paranoia

Plan & Train

Homeland Security has developed an independent study course entitled Active Shooter: What You Can Do. This course was developed to provide the public with guidance on how to prepare for and respond to active shooter crisis situations.

Upon completion of Active Shooter: What You Can Do, employees and managers will be able to:

§ Describe the actions to take when confronted with an active shooter and to assist responding law enforcement officials

§ Recognize potential workplace violence indicators

§ Describe actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter incidents; and

§ Describe how to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident

The online training is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute.

Available Materials for Download to assist you in planning.

§ Active Shooter Preparedness Program Fact Sheet

§ Active Shooter Booklet

§ Active Shooter Pamphlet

§ Active Shooter Poster

§ Active Shooter Poster (Spanish)

§ Active Shooter Pocket Card

§ Active Shooter Pocket Card (Spanish)

Planning and Response to an Active Shooter: An Interagency Security Committee Policy and Best Practices Guide

Are you prepared? For more information on how to develop a plan to prevent and defend against an active shooter scenario, please give us a call at (844) 398-7800 or click here to fill out a form and we will contact you!

The Secret To Managing Employee Stress

The Secret To Managing Employee Stress

Rise and shine. Kiss the kids and your partner. Feed the dog. Grab breakfast and head out the door. Jump in the car, on the bus, or subway. The sun is rising. It’s a new day. The work day is spread out before you.

Sounds wonderful, but sometimes it’s not.

When we go to work we take along an invisible backpack containing the worries of our family life (perhaps the child who didn’t sleep, the spouse who is unhappy, or the recently diagnosed mother), and a load of our own anxieties and concerns. The backpack is heavy, made heavier so by the pressures of our jobs. When we experience unhealthy amounts of stress, we physically are not at our best. Sleep is often interrupted, as is healthy eating, and good habits such as exercise. We also often self-medicate with medications or alcohol.

We all experience stress. Some stress, called eustress, is healthy. Eustress is motivating. It helps us get off the couch, get to work on time, get the report completed, or apply for the promotion. However, when we tip into distress, stress becomes unhealthy and unproductive.

It is usually pretty easy to identify an employee in distress. He or she may be anxious, moody, or unusually irritable. Why? It’s actually a physical reaction: When in distress we are only able to access a small section of our brain, the amygdala, the center for fight or flight response. When in this state, the manager’s brain cannot distinguish between real and perceived threats. This often gets in the way of relationships with colleagues. Conversations that could be collaborative negotiations instead end unproductively and harm the development of trust.

Constructive feedback is a great first step to providing assistance. Acknowledging the great work that your manager regularly produces, and that there has been a shift.

Here’s some sample dialogue that may help: “John, I hope you know how much you are valued at our firm. You are a key member of the team and we rely on your expertise. However, I’m worried about you. I noticed how you responded to Cindy in the meeting. I know her question was a bit off topic, but typically that would not have bothered you. I am wondering if there is something going on that you might be willing to share with me.”

If your manager is depressed or his/her anxiety is debilitating it may be time to refer the manager to the company’s EAP [Employee Assistance Program] or directly to a therapist for help. However, there may be other options. Executive coaching, with a qualified accredited coach, can provide objective feedback through validated diagnostics such as a 360 instrument, and one-one-one sessions to help the manager move forward towards more effective behaviors.

Katie Riker Sternberg, ACC, MSW, LMSW, MBA

About the Author: Katie Riker Sternberg, ACC, MSW, LMSW, MBA, is the Founder of Momentum Executive and Personal Coaching, LLC. Katie’s 25 years of experience is a blend of senior marketing leadership, entrepreneurship, independent consulting to business leaders, individual counseling and executive coaching. You can follow Katie on Facebook to keep up with her latest posts.

For more information on how Highflyer HR can provide you and your company with effective stress management solutions, contact us today!

HR Strategies To Prevent Stress In The Workplace

HR Strategies To Prevent Stress In The Workplace

April is National Stress Awareness Month!


Consequences of too much stress within an organization may include increased turnover, spikes in health care costs, loss of valuable and productive employees, and loss of office collegiality. Employees caught managing organizational strife may individually struggle with physical or mental consequences.

“When we go to work we take along an invisible backpack containing the worries of our family life (perhaps the child who didn’t sleep, the spouse who is unhappy, or the recently diagnosed mother), and a load of our own anxieties and concerns. The backpack is heavy, made heavier so by the pressures of our jobs. When we experience unhealthy amounts of stress, we physically are not at our best.”


Katie Riker Sternberg, ICC, MSW, LMSW, MBA

Momentum Personal and Executive Coaching, LLC

Signs of Stress in the Workplace:


  • Excessive workload (i.e., increase in overtime hours, work over the weekend)
  • Mood swings (i.e., irritable, anxious, abnormally sensitive)
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Increase in absenteeism (i.e., increase in sick or personal days)
  • Disengaged (i.e., less social and more secluded than normal)
  • Fatigue (i.e., make more mistakes than usual)
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Conflicts with bosses or coworkers

HR Strategies to Prevent Stress

1. Stress Management Coaching and Training

Adopt stress management education into your employee wellness program to educate employees on how to cope with day-to-day stressors. Executive coaching and team training are useful options, as they provide support, guidance, and resolution to stress-related problems. Have a therapist or health professional speak to your staff to provide knowledge on the effects of stress and tips to prevent them. Hold stress management workshops or schedule “Lunch and Learns” that cover topics on helping employees manage and reduce stress in their work and personal lives. Helping employees deal with stress improves engagement by contradicting things like the physical and mental damage stress can bring upon an individual.


2. Open Communication

Maintaining open communication and consultation are critical to leadership and preventing stress. Create an atmosphere where people feel it is okay to talk to management about problems they are facing. Talk with employees regularly to make sure everyone is clear about their job specifics and what is required of them. Provide clear business objectives, deadlines and expectations to make workdays more productive and less stressful. Carry out regular employee surveys to help you find any stress-related problems with individual managers or employees.


3. Flexible Schedules

The struggle to balance work and life is one of the main stressors employees face. Problems of commuting to and from work, finding time in the day to complete much-needed errands and still fit in quality time with family, personal obligations and many more challenge employees daily. Provide opportunities for employees who struggle with these daily challenges to contribute ideas on planning and organizing their own schedules. Having more control over their own schedule can boost employee morale and eliminate much of the daily workplace stressors. Encourage a healthy work-life balance by working with employees to offer flexible work arrangements, such as flexible hours, telecommuting or video conferencing, part-time work and job-sharing.


4. Value Employees

To maintain a happy, healthy and productive workplace, it is important to help employees cope with all stressors in their life, including the issues you cannot change. Try offering on-site services to employees at a discount. Services to implement might include car washes, oil changes, dry cleaning, mailing services, restaurant food delivery, eyeglass care, shoe shines, etc. Massage therapy is one of the best ways to help employees relax and relieve stress. Have a massage therapy service come to your office to offer neck and shoulder massages. Stress triggers all types of medical conditions. Provide free monthly health screenings for blood pressure or cholesterol. Programs like this can help employees identify stress-related health risks and provide knowledge of ways to improve their health. Partner up with a local gym to create weekly group exercise classes or discounts when purchasing memberships. Exercising and healthy eating can provide drastic changes in stress levels, resulting in increased productivity, energy, and inspiration to do better.


Help employees feel capable of dealing with all stressors in their lives by implementing some of the above HR strategies and maintain a happy, healthy and productive working environment.


Stay tuned for next week’s blog to hear more on stress management in the workplace through the eyes of Katie Sternberg, ICC, MSW, LMSW, MBA of Momentum Personal and Executive Coaching, LLC!

Inclement Weather Poses FLSA Challenges

Inclement Weather Poses FLSA Challenges

When work closes because of inclement weather, exempt and nonexempt employees are treated differently under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This is a concept most employees and employers struggle to understand.

It is suggested to review and follow the existing inclement weather policy, should the company have one.

But… What is the actual law?

If the company closes for weather-related reasons, nonexempt employees are not entitled to pay. The employer can allow nonexempt employees to use accrued paid time off, vacation, or sick (PTO) to cover their absences. If PTO is not available, the time off is unpaid. Some employers have mandatory use of PTO policies which is acceptable.

Some employers provide a fixed number of paid inclement weather days per year.

As for exempt employees, the application of weather-related absences is more complicated. In the case where an employer is open for business but an exempt employee chooses to stay home, that employer is not entitled to pay the employee for that day because he/she chose to remove themselves from the workplace for personal reasons. If the employer has a PTO policy and the employee has accrued time, the employer can use the PTO to cover their absence. In the event there is no accrued PTO available, the employer can reduce the employee’s pay for the absence, in full-day increments, without violating the salary-basis test of the FLSA.

However, if the employer decides to close for weather-related reasons, the employee’s full salary must be paid for the week even though he/she may not have worked the full workweek.  In this scenario, the employee is available for work, but it is the employer who has made the work unavailable to the employee.

Bottom line… Employers should not reduce the weekly compensation from exempt employees for partial days caused by bad weather.

For a relevant DOL opinion letter, check out the link below.

4 Practical Tips To Maximize The Impact Of Sexual Harassment Training

4 Practical Tips To Maximize The Impact Of Sexual Harassment Training

Sexual harassment compliance training is generally not HR professionals’ favorite thing. There is a lot of gray area in terms of what constitutes harassment. This gray area makes it difficult to distinguish whether something is sexual harassment or not, and creates a challenge for bystanders who have witnessed an iffy situation to know if they should or should not report of the situation.

There is a high chance that your employees have or will encounter an iffy situation. Providing them with clear and thorough training will help them to better distinguish a sexual harassment scenario and will increase their knowledge on how to correctly respond.
To maximize the impact of your company’s sexual harassment training, consider these 4 tips:

1. Make It Mandatory

From new hires to company executives, ensure each employee completes a thorough sexual harassment compliance training program. Mandatory training sends a message that all employees, despite their titles, are expected to represent themselves and their company in a way that is considerate and respectable. A lack of support from company leaders sets a poor example and generates a negative impact on the importance of training for the rest of the office. When factoring in schedules and company budget, utilize different training methods. Smaller group training sessions help employees to feel more comfortable asking questions and are more willing to participate in group discussions. Virtual training is another alternative but should have an interactive component like instructor-led live training sessions.

2. Keep It Recent and Relatable

You cannot expect your employees to read and memorize the company’s sexual harassment policies. Create an ongoing and interactive training experience with customized character-driven situations that resonate with your workplace. Show your employees workplace scenarios similar to what they’ve been dealing with in their workplace. Employees will start to see what could really happen to them personally as well as what may have happened to the company from a legal position. Discuss real-world topics such as hugs, jokes, dating in the workplace, alcohol at work-related events, and off-site and after-hours activities.

3. Check Your Culture

Do you allow inappropriate comments? Do you allow cursing? On-site drinking? Allowing this behavior creates an inappropriate environment. An inappropriate environment is usually what sparks sexual harassment. Harassment can range from extreme forms such as violence, threats, or physical touching to less obvious actions like teasing, mocking, or repeatedly bothering coworkers or refusing to talk to them. It can be based on a person’s race, ethnicity, religion or gender. Establish an Open-Door Policy for your employees to anonymously ask questions, get answers, and share experiences through a hotline, specific human resource person or email address, or outside party.

4. Safety Checks

Don’t limit sexual harassment training to a one-time event. It is important to have awareness campaigns periodically throughout the year. Provide tools like relevant brochures, helpful websites and blog links, videos and webinars to help employees identify and report improper behavior in the future. Hang anti-sexual harassment posters on notice boards in common work areas and send out emails reinforcing what was taught during training. Give employees a clear and concise outline your sexual harassment policy, reporting and investigation process, and penalties for non-compliance. When your company does health and safety surveys, collect data about sexual harassment and abuse. Analyze the data and reevaluate your training methods for the next time you have a sexual harassment training. Periodically conduct workplace audits to monitor any incidences of sexual harassment.

We need to shift away from explaining what sexual harassment is and drift towards creating a culture of respect and civility. We need to shift away from explaining how to avoid situations in which harassment can be questioned and towards ways to encourage trust. For more information on how Highflyer HR can provide effective sexual harassment training solutions, Contact us at (844) 398-7800 or