Sensitivity can identify concerns, avert problems


In the early 1990s, violence in the workplace was being addressed by a lot of major companies. It appeared that the violence was more along the lines of revenge by others in a leadership position. After working for years and watching other people getting promotions or different jobs, they would retire or be let go and return to get even. There were a few school shootings but they were not widespread.

Family issues would cause areas of concern. Employers started to have what they called "sensitivity classes" to go over some of the areas that could be an early sign of a person not thinking right, e.g. their work performance had changed. If the concern could be identified early, maybe the company could help. The only drawback was that some people did not want to come forward because they were embarrassed to admit their problems.

The company also considered hiring expert help to evaluate their gate entry system, which was changed for the better.

After I retired, I went to work for an insulation company. One day as I made my rounds at different work areas, I was approached by a worker who informed me that one of the younger workers had been thrown out of the house by his wife. At the time, the job was starting to come to an end and some of the extra crew was being let go each week. I asked the crew labor person how many workers we would be keeping in the next weeks and if the person I was informed about would be eliminated. He was scheduled to be let go on Thursday. I asked if we could keep him another week or two because of his issues. I told him I wanted to avert a problem if we could.

About a half hour later, he said he thought my idea was possible. I don't know whether anything happened after the two weeks. What I did know was that we might have averted a serious problem.

Dave Bensmiller


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