7 Factors that Drastically Increase Workplace Violence
Violence in the workplace is a huge liability and potentially a fiscal disaster waiting to happen. Unless you take reasonable action to ensure the safety of your employees, you could be faced with lawsuits, potentially loss of life and a damaged company image.
According to the Society of Human Resource Management Workplace, Almost two-thirds of HR professionals stated there had been some sort of violence at their organization within a three year time span. The breakdown of workplace violence incidents is as follows:
• 54% - Inappropriate language
• 13% - Verbal abuse
• 7% - Verbal threats of violence
• 6% - Sexual harassment
• 5% - Burglary
• 4% - Pushing/Shoving
• 3% - Fistfight
• 2% - Threatening emails received by employees
• 2% - Stalking
• 1% - Robbery (holdup)
• 1% - Threatening emails send by employees
• 1% - Bomb threat
This survey among others bears out the fact that the potential for violence in the workplace should still be a top concern for employers. Approximately $55 billion a year is lost to litigation awards, property damage and lost productivity from workplace violence. It is estimated that productivity can drop as much as 50% in the six to eight weeks following a workplace violence incident. How much would this impact your company’s bottom line?
Some employers have not yet fully addressed the issue of workplace violence; their negligence has not necessarily been purposeful. It has been due to a lack of awareness of the problem coupled with a preoccupation with everyday work and management pressures. This has caused employers to ignore some of the organizational factors that have contributed to workplace violence.
Some of those factors include:
1. A weak, misunderstood or non-existent policy against all forms of violence in the workplace
2. Failure to educate managers and supervisors in recognizing early warning signs or symptoms of impending violence and their responsibility to take action
3. No appropriate and safe mechanism for reporting violent or threatening behavior
4. Failure to take immediate action against those who have threatened or committed acts of workplace violence
5. Inadequate physical security
6. Negligence in the hiring, training, supervision, discipline and retention of employees
7. Lack of in-house employee support systems
Employers who have addressed workplace violence have often overlooked domestic violence and how this plays a part in the workplace. Survey data cited by the Family Violence Prevention Fund, a national nonprofit group focusing on domestic violence education and prevention, shows that nearly a quarter of women nationwide have experienced domestic violence. More than one-third of those women report that this abuse had an impact on their work performance in the forms of lateness, missed work and keeping a job.
Companies that have an effective workplace violence policy, consistent training and a good security program are shown to have the lowest rate of violence in the workplace, based on a study by the U.S. Department of Justice. What are your priorities when it comes to keeping your people safe and protecting your company’s reputation? Is your workplace violence policy simply stated in a binder, or do your employees fully understand the severity of engaging in an incident as well as the proper steps to diffuse an incident?
It’s no longer a question of IF workplace violence will strike, it’s WHEN. Be fully prepared and make your workplace a Violence Free Zone.