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Workplace violence has increased throughout the business world. Whether it comes from within (employees) or without (customers, suppliers and the general public), self-storage operators should be vigilant. Here are some ways to recognize potential threats and protect staff and tenants.

Angie Decembre

February 7, 2023

4 Min Read
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Every year, employees and customers are victims of workplace violence. In fact, the problem is escalating, with shootings, assaults and harassment happening in a variety of businesses, including self-storage. It’s likely worse than we even realize, as these crimes are underreported.

So, what can you do to protect staff and tenants at your self-storage facility? The first step is to identify the various forms of workplace violence including intimidation, physical and sexual assault, and harassment for gender, race or sexual orientation. The second is to ensure everyone who works at the operation is trained to recognize the early signs of potential violent behavior and report it when necessary.

A Definition

Workplace violence refers to any threatening or disruptive behavior that occurs in a place of business. It can take on many forms. Most people think of physical attacks, but it can also be verbal or psychological through bullying and harassment. Swearing, insults, condescending or racist remarks, harmful pranks, and other acts all fall under this umbrella.

Workplace violence can be internal or external. It might originate from customers, vendors, coworkers or supervisors. For example, a self-storage tenant who’s upset about a late fee might shake their fist or curse at an employee. A facility manager might shove another team member or block them from leaving the office. Both are acts of workplace violence.

Watch for Red Flags

While violence in the workplace is becoming more common, there are ways to spot potential problems. One notable red flag is a drastic change in an individual’s behavior. For instance, you might notice that a self-storage employee or coworker who’s generally reliable suddenly starts coming in late or fails to show up at all. They might miss deadlines, question a supervisor’s authority or become disrespectful of others. Additional warning signs include emotional language or frequent crying, or making inappropriate comments, particularly around acts of violence to themselves or others.

Threats can also come from self-storage tenants. Your renters could be hostile or threaten onsite staff. Suggestive language or unwanted advances also constitute as harassment.

Not all of these behaviors mean that a person will become violent. They’re simply something to note and a reminder to proceed with caution.

Report and Act

If you ever feel threatened in your self-storage workplace, report it to your owner or supervisor immediately, or your human-resources department if you have one. Sometimes the situation warrants a phone call to the local authorities. If you feel it’s necessary to protect yourself, report an incident anonymously.

All incidents, no matter how seemingly insignificant, should be investigated. It’s crucial that your self-storage company intervenes at any sign of a feasibly hostile or aggressive situation and takes swift action when warranted.

Train Everyone

Though workplace violence can strike at any self-storage operation at any time, there are measures your organization can take to address potential problems. Training can prepare employees for unexpected incidents, so they can focus on their job without feeling threatened or insecure. It’ll also help prepare the team on how to address threats, annoyance, bullying or other hazardous behavior, which results in increased productivity and happier staff.

Your company’s training should explain how to:

  • Identify and define types of violence

  • Identify risk factors and potentially violent people

  • Comply with requirements, guidelines, record-keeping and reporting

  • Manage and survive threats, disruptive behavior or violence

Every self-storage operation should establish a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence. It’s vital to have written rules on the subject and that all employees read and understand them. Here are some examples of prohibited conduct to cover:

  • Causing physical harm to a vendor, customer or other employee

  • Making threatening or bullying statements

  • Exhibiting combative or hostile behavior that creates a sensible fear of injury or endangers another individual with emotional distress

  • Intentionally harming property that belongs to the company, another employee, vendor or customer

  • Committing acts provoked by or related to sexual harassment or domestic violence

Everyone on your self-storage team should know how to recognize and minimize these types of occurrences. Your company training should teach and motivate you to build awareness, comply with guidelines, keep suitable records and report incidents when they happen.

It’s the right of every self-storage employee to feel safe at work. Your company should create control measures to reduce potential workplace violence, and every member of the team should know how to handle scenarios such as a robbery or other crime, hostile interactions with coworkers or customers, and acts of harassment from internal or external sources. With a zero-tolerance policy and the right staff training, everyone in your operation can understand how to protect themselves and each other.

Angie Decembre is the regional training manager for Spartan Investment Group, which syndicates investor capital to develop commercial real estate, including self-storage facilities. Angie has more than 10 years of property-management and hospitality experience as well as extensive leadership experience in staff development, process and productivity improvements, and curriculum design. For more information, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Angie Decembre

Regional Training Manager, Spartan Investment Group

Angie Decembre is the regional training manager for Spartan Investment Group, which syndicates investor capital to develop commercial real estate, including self-storage facilities. Angie has more than 10 years of property-management and hospitality experience as well as extensive leadership experience in staff development, process and productivity improvements, and curriculum design. For more information, email [email protected].

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