Training is key to giving staff the skills to learn to deal with managing threats and the risk of violence, as well as the fear of these issues experienced by some staff.
Key points to remember about training
- Training should be about both preventing as well as dealing with violence.
- Training can cover a whole range of issues from legal requirements to prevention measures. You should think carefully about what you need to cover, your particular risks, and speak to your staff about what they feel they need to know. You will need to identify the training needs of different staff.
- You will need separate training for managers.
- You may need specialist training, eg for door supervisors, people who sell alcohol or to raise awareness about robberies.
- You should evaluate any training and make any improvements needed.
- Training should only be one of a number of prevention measures used.
- Ensure you carry out refresher training.
Your policy on work-related violence should include how you will prevent and deal with any potentially violent situations. Involving staff in the development of procedures and encouraging them to offer suggestions will help to increase ownership and adherence to agreed policies and procedures.
What should training cover?
- Training should reflect your policy on violence.
- For example, if your policy says how you will eject troublemakers then training should reflect and cover this.
How to reduce the risk of work-related violence: good customer service
- Make sure training does not focus just on coping with violence once it occurs, but also on how to reduce the risks in the first place.
- For example, training should focus on how to manage customer dissatisfaction.
- You should think about offering staff training on how to behave in a way that reduces the risk of work-related violence.
- This might include listening to customer requirements, verbal communication, helpfulness, efficiency, friendliness, supporting colleagues, handling difficult customers and complaints, and non-verbal behaviour like eye contact, smiling, keeping a reasonable distance and keeping palms open.
What could training cover?
- Relevant legislation and legal rights, why violence occurs and the risks, how to recognise the signs of potential violence and how to manage and de-escalate the violent situation if it arises.
You should emphasis that no one should risk personal safety to save property, for example in an armed robbery.
- Organisational policies and practices.
- For example, cash handling, dealing with refunds/complaints/difficult customers or age-related sales refusals, how to use security equipment properly, and emergency procedures.
- Importance of reporting incidents of violence, and how this should be done.
- Staff should be aware that it is important to remember as much detail as possible about the incident and the offender and to preserve the scene and any evidence, if possible and necessary.
- Opening and closing procedures.
- For example, staff could be encouraged to look for loiterers and securely lock premises, and serve customers so that they have finished their purchases by closing time.
- In licensed premises customers should be prevented from buying a lot of drinks at the end of the evening.
- Managers need specific training on your violence prevention policy, how to undertake a risk assessment, how to create a positive and respectful work environment, how to deal with a violent situation, or how to support staff members during and after a violent situation.
- In licensed premises you may also need to train managers on how to manage features like pool tables and jukeboxes, including providing guidelines on turn-taking etc. You may also want to train them on how to manage potential flashpoints like closing times.
- Make sure your staff are trained and know how to use the relevant security equipment, eg CCTV and alarm systems.
- For example, staff should know how to change or secure tapes or reset the time on the CCTV equipment so that images can be used effectively.
- Managers of retail premises may want to provide specific training to raise awareness about robberies.
- The training on what to do during a robbery might include advising staff to keep calm; not trying to 'have a go'; not to make any sudden movements; avoiding eye contact; doing exactly what they are told; listening to robbers to try and establish a positive rapport; explaining staff actions and not raising the alarm unless it's safe to do so, eg if it's not an audible alarm in the store; noting details of offenders to tell police; and warning robbers of possible surprises, such as other employees elsewhere in the store.
- Training on this subject might also include what to do after a robbery, emergency plans and what support is available. You should also inform staff about how they should report the incident.
- You should assess individual and organisational training needs before you design training and then design the training with these needs in mind.
- This will increase the effectiveness of any training you provide. You must also keep records.
- You should evaluate any training you provide.
- Evaluating training ensures you have met the needs of individuals and the organisation. It establishes whether trainees have learnt anything and can help guide future improvements in training courses. You cannot assume that just because someone has been on a training course they either have or will use the skills they have been taught - think carefully about how you will assess comprehension.
- Use refresher training
- If skills and techniques learnt during training are not practised they can easily be forgotten.
- You should make sure staff are aware of what post-incident support and help is available, for example counselling.
- Self-defence training should only be considered for staff who are employed to possibly restrain people. It is not generally suitable for other staff. Staff who only receive this this type of training may think that physical intervention is the best way of dealing with a situation, or it may make staff feel over-confident or invincible. Staff may then intervene in situations where they normally would not have done, or feel less inclined to use other preventative measures. This type of training also needs to be regularly practised to be effective. Consider breakaway training for other staff.
- Do not solely rely on training as your only violence prevention measure. You need to combine training with other physical and non-physical measures that tackle the risk of violence at source.
- Door supervisors also need specific training.