12 Various Approaches to Managing Threatening Behavior from an Employee (Tips + 5 Templates + 5 Examples)

Responding to a threat from an employee is a serious matter that requires a calm, professional, and immediate approach. Here is a guideline on how to respond to such a situation:

1. Assess the Threat:

  • Determine the nature and severity of the threat. Is it verbal, physical, or written? Does it pose an immediate danger to someone’s safety or is it more generalized and non-specific?

2. Ensure Safety:

  • If the threat poses any immediate danger, prioritize the safety of all employees. This may involve separating the involved parties and securing the area.

3. Stay Calm and Professional:

  • Keep your composure to manage the situation effectively. Responding with anger or aggression can escalate the situation.

4. Document the Incident:

  • Record the details of the threat as soon as possible while the information is fresh. Include the time, location, what was said or done, and any witnesses.

5.Follow Company Protocol:

  • Consult your organization’s policies on workplace threats and violence. There should be clear procedures for handling such incidents.

6. Involve the Appropriate Parties:

  • This may include notifying your HR department, senior management, and possibly legal counsel, depending on the severity of the threat.

7. Communicate with the Employee:

  • In a situation where it is safe to do so, speak to the employee in a private setting. Have another member of management or HR present. Seek to understand the context of the threat, and clearly communicate that threats are unacceptable and against company policy.

8. Evaluate the Need for External Authorities:

  • For serious threats, especially those involving violence or illegal activity, it may be necessary to involve law enforcement.

9. Take Appropriate Disciplinary Action:

  • Depending on the company’s policy and the severity of the threat, this could range from a warning to suspension or termination of employment.

10. Provide Support:

  • Offer support to the employee if the threat seems to stem from personal issues or stress. This could involve access to counseling services or other resources.

11. Communicate with Your Team:

  • Inform your staff about the situation as appropriate, while respecting confidentiality. Assure them that their safety is a priority and that measures are being taken to maintain a safe work environment.

12. Review Workplace Safety Measures:

  • After the incident, review and improve workplace safety measures and threat response procedures if necessary.

Templates for responding to a threat from an employee

Template 1: Immediate Response

Subject: Immediate Attention Required – Confidential Matter

Dear [Employee’s Name],

I am writing to address a serious issue that has been reported to me directly. It has come to my attention that on [date], an incident occurred involving statements made by you that were interpreted as threatening. We take such matters extremely seriously, and it is imperative that we address this without delay to ensure the safety and well-being of all our team members.

Please be aware that, as per company policy and to maintain a safe work environment, we must conduct a formal review of the circumstances surrounding this incident. Therefore, I would like to meet with you privately to discuss this matter further. We have scheduled a meeting for [date] at [time]. Please report to [meeting location]. [HR representative’s name] will also be present to facilitate our discussion.

In the interim, please understand that the details of this situation should remain confidential and should not be discussed with colleagues to maintain the integrity of the investigation and to protect all parties involved.

I must also advise that, pending the outcome of our review, the company may need to take appropriate action in accordance with our workplace policies and procedures.

Should you need to discuss any immediate concerns or require support ahead of our meeting, please contact me directly.

Thank you for your cooperation in this sensitive matter.


[Your Name] [Your Position] [Your Contact Information]

Template 2: Follow-up After Initial Acknowledgment

Subject: Follow-up on Reported Incident

Dear [Employee’s Name],

Following our initial communication regarding the incident on [date], I would like to reiterate the gravity of the situation and the need for a comprehensive understanding of the events that transpired.

As mentioned previously, we are committed to a safe and respectful work environment, and any threat or action that compromises this environment is treated with the highest level of concern.

To proceed with our review and to ensure a fair and balanced approach to the situation, we have arranged a meeting on [date] at [time], to be held in [meeting location]. We request your attendance at this meeting, which will also be attended by [HR representative’s name], to discuss the incident in question.

Please be prepared to discuss the incident openly, and note that the discussion will be confidential and intended to ascertain the facts and determine the next steps.

Until our meeting, we ask that you continue to fulfill your work responsibilities as usual, unless otherwise instructed, and refrain from discussing the matter with colleagues, as this could impact the review process.

Your cooperation and professionalism in this matter are expected and appreciated.

If there are any specific needs or considerations you would like us to be aware of ahead of our meeting, please let us know.

Best regards,

[Your Name] [Your Position] [Your Contact Information]

In both cases, ensure that any communication is consistent with legal requirements and your organization’s policies. If the threat is of a violent nature or you feel there is an immediate risk, it is critical to contact the appropriate authorities and ensure the safety of all employees as a first priority.

5 Examples for Addressing Employee Threats in the Workplace

Dealing with a threat from an employee requires a nuanced approach that balances the need for safety, legal considerations, and the rights of the employee. Here are five examples of how a response could be structured depending on the context and severity of the threat:

Example 1: Immediate and General Threat

Subject: Urgent: Required Discussion on Workplace Conduct

Dear [Employee’s Name],

Your recent comments on [date/time] have been reported to us, and they are of serious concern. We must address this matter urgently to understand the intent and context of your words. Please meet with [HR representative’s name] and myself tomorrow at [time] in [meeting location]. It is essential to discuss the situation in a private setting and ascertain the next steps. Until then, for the safety and well-being of all staff, we are asking you to take a leave of absence with pay.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Example 2: Non-Specific Threat

Subject: Immediate Attention Required – Workplace Conduct Inquiry

Dear [Employee’s Name],

It has come to our attention that there may have been statements made by you that could be construed as threatening. We are dedicated to maintaining a safe work environment and, as such, we take any potential threat very seriously. We need to discuss this matter with you directly. Please join us for a confidential meeting on [date] at [time]. Your cooperation is essential, and we trust that you will approach this conversation with the gravity it warrants.

Kind regards,

[Your Name]

Example 3: After an Employee Has Been Initially Confronted

Subject: Further Discussion Required on Reported Incident

Dear [Employee’s Name],

Following our initial conversation regarding the concerns raised about your conduct, it is necessary to continue our discussion to ensure a thorough understanding of the events. Please attend a follow-up meeting on [date] at [time] in [meeting location]. We must resolve this issue promptly and ensure that all perspectives are fairly heard. Until we meet, please continue with your scheduled work and refrain from discussing this matter with co-workers.


[Your Name]

Example 4: Threat Made in Writing

Subject: Important: Review of Workplace Correspondence

Dear [Employee’s Name],

We have received a report regarding certain statements made in a recent email/letter you authored, which we perceive to be of a threatening nature. We need to discuss the content of this correspondence as soon as possible. Please be available for a meeting on [date] at [time]. We must emphasize that all communications within our workplace should adhere to our professional standards and code of conduct. Your immediate attention to this matter is required.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

Example 5: Vague or Indirect Threat

Subject: Clarification Needed on Recent Remarks

Dear [Employee’s Name],

Some remarks attributed to you have raised concerns among your colleagues and have been interpreted as potentially threatening. We would like to understand the context and meaning behind these remarks. Please join [HR representative’s name] and me for a discussion on [date] at [time]. We are committed to an open and respectful dialogue to address and clear any misunderstandings promptly.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

In each response, it’s important to maintain confidentiality and to ensure the employee understands the seriousness of the situation without escalating any potential conflict. The goal is to resolve the issue peacefully while also protecting the safety and well-being of everyone involved. Always consult with HR and possibly legal counsel before and during such situations, especially if there is a potential for the issue to result in disciplinary action or involve law enforcement.

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