Until last week, I worked for a local property management firm. In recent years, as crime spiked in Anchorage, I became increasingly frightened at work.
When I asked my manager how my company could help protect me, he joked, “Handling tricky situations is just one of the perks of the job” and said nothing else. That joke, which made it clear I was on my own without even sympathy if something happened to me at work, was the last straw. I gave my firm seven years of hard work and loyalty and this was the first time I asked for something in return.
I’d love you to run a column that tells my manager what he should have said and done.
He should have said your safety was important and followed his words with action. A caring, involved management develops policies, procedures and plans to make sure their employees go home safely at the end of every work day.
According to Department of Justice and other sources, nearly two million American workers have been the victims of workplace assault, homicide, stalking, harassment, domestic violence and verbal abuse. These numbers represent the tip of an iceberg, as many injured make no report.
While every employer needs to take precautions to protect their employees, those in the real estate industry need to take special precautions because many rental agents, maintenance workers, property managers and real estate agents face unique safety challenges. According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), property management employees, who often work alone and during early morning and late night hours, are especially vulnerable.
Every employer needs to identify risks. In real estate, this includes screening potential tenants, employees and contractors for past criminal offenses. It includes training you and other employees in early recognition of warning signs and strategies for mitigating escalating, volatile behavior. In some workplaces, it means installing security cameras, bright lighting and alarm systems. Your employer can arm you with a PDA you can use to send a coded distress signal, along with self-defense training that enables you to act instead of choking in panic if you face true danger.
Finally, if you mail this column to your manager’s manager, you can help your senior management mitigate a serious internal risk, that of a manager who recently cost his company a good employee.
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016) and “Solutions” (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.