This year something that had once been an academic exercise became a reality. Myself and a few other managers in our building were asked to come to a conference room and we did not know why. A very senior manager in another department gave us a “heads up” that one of her employees, a medical trainee, was being stalked and threatened. This behavior was also exhibited towards another one of her employees.
On leaving the meeting, I went back to talk to my team to let them know I needed them to look out for a photo that was to be posted by the hospital police later that afternoon. We also discussed the need to be more vigilant when using our badges to enter the building so that other people don’t follow us inside. When leaving the building for the day, I let them all know that security to get them to their cars safely and did not mind walking with them either.
This January is the fifteenth annual National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM). As HR professionals we know the heavy impact events like this can have on the victims and team. There is also a monetary cost when you consider that one out of every eight stalking victims lose time from work and more than half of those will lose five days of work or more.
There are resources out there to help us help our team. The Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC) makes several training modules available online that are a valuable resource in learning (SPARC, 2018). Their active learning modules cover public awareness of the problem as well as tools to help identify stalking and respond to it. Learners might relate to famous movie characters that were stalkers as well to better understand the risks involved (SimAware, 2019).
The National Center for Victims of Crime suggests Stalking Safety Planning to address issues quickly when they arise (Stalking Resource Center, 2009). Some of their suggestions that we used this year really helped our teams. These included:
- Making sure people in the office have a photo of the stalker. We posted them in the elevators and by doors.
- Ensuring that our police and security were available to escort employees to and from the office.
- Maintain a copy of the protective order in our records. By having the copy available, there would not be a question as to why entrance was denied or why the stalker could be forcibly removed.
We have a responsibility to keep our employees safe in the workplace so let’s all end the month by taking this National Stalking Awareness Month as an opportunity to review what we will do.
References and resources:
SimAware. 2019. Preparing for a Stalker in the Office.
SPARC. 2018. Training Modules. Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center.
Stalking Resource Center. 2009. Stalking Safety Planning. National Center for Victims of Crime.