Is workplace violence a real threat? Did you know that over the past 10 years, most significant surveys on the topic of workplace violence rated the threat of workplace violence in the top 5 security concerns? What does this say about the real impact it has on a business?
In a 2005 Department of Labor Special Survey it reported in 2006, nearly 5% of 348K of the establishments surveyed experienced an incident of workplace violence in the last year. While 1/3 reported a negative impact to employees, only 11% changed their policy after the incident; 9% of those had no program or policy. (Source: US Department of Labor, Survey of Workplace Violence Prevention, 2005) Since the 2005 survey, between 1992 and 2012, there were 14,770 workplace homicide victims, or roughly 700 a year on average, according to federal government statistics. Incidents involving firearms are of concern. Gun violence resulted in 78% of the workplace homicides in 2010. Because gun violence cases tend to get the most public attention, they may seem more prevalent than they actually are. Nevertheless, workplace must understand what is workplace violence prevention.
Though for the most part workplace violence is workplace related, it is always about work but something exacerbated at work. It’s easy to assume “disgruntled workers” are usually to blame. But that’s not necessarily the case. In about two-thirds of workplace homicides, the assailant has no known personal relationship with the victims, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These relate to public shootings.
Then there are instances where a victim of domestic violence may be attacked by an abusive partner at work, said Christine Walters, a workplace violence expert who advises the Society for Human Resource Management. FBI statistics suggest that employee victims and witnesses report their victimization and observations outside their workplaces. Employees want a credible, trusting workplace violence prevention initiative that’s accountable and responsible for problem resolution and not only discipline. Sometimes we all become victims of circumstances.
Sitting and listening to warning signs and risk factors is important but many adults have experienced one or more of the warning signs. Does that make them at risk? Focus should be on recognizing aggression and aggressive behavior.
Today workplace’s still appear not to consider proactive workplace violence prevention and violence response a business-security priority. The tendency is for employer’s to save money by scheduling this important training to busy human resource, employee labor relations and training personnel who may or may not be qualified to credibly deliver such training. Justifying their budgets, employers are not delegating workplace violence prevention and violence response (active shooter) training to local police departments and other “free” offerings. Free from an experienced based consultant can have tremendous value when focused as part of your workplace violence prevention and workplace security planning considerations.
Did you know that the incidents which lead to workplace violence are business security concerns because it affects people, premises, property, image, performance, production, efficiency, morale and relationships. If one were to research the topic you would discover an encyclopedia of knowledge on the topic?
The survey said that employees can be affected by workplace violence in a number of ways including increased fear, lower morale and higher absenteeism. Employees in 36% of the establishments having incidents of workplace violence in the previous 12 months were negatively affected.
If that is so, why then is it that even though the Department of Labor’s 2005 Special Statistical Survey on the topic supports the discussion that workplace violence is a viable safety and security concern is the commitment perceived to be so anemic?
We suggest that the commitment requires an ongoing security awareness to protect people, premises property from internal and external predators that requires the use surveillance and monitoring technology, ongoing orientation and training seminars and unique policy and programs to address the problem.
The resultant negative image from one disgruntled employee’s act of violence can have an adverse impact on public and employee perceptions. In many cases as we saw in the Anthrax scare, post offices closed because employees did not feel safe and management did not want the risk.
The business bottom line is affected as reduced employee performance, production and efficiency become the other victims of the incidents of workplace violence.
Female employees rather quit or request transfers than be exposed to threats of violence or sexual harassment.
Injury compensation claims increase as employees find ways of hiding their victimization under different covered ailments to retain their employment thus innocently protecting those culpable and responsible.
A lack of confidence in management’s commitment and the possibility of increased harassment and victimization as a result of any report that are made are additional factors. Rather than feel the wrath of the perpetrator and even coworkers nothing is said.
Inordinate amounts of dedicated resources might be dedicated to investigate incidents of workplace violence in determining what protective measures to take.
And last but not least, employees and supervisors might not know that incidents of workplace violence begin with a bad word, name calling, a racial slur, a sexual innuendo, perceptions of disparate treatment, unfair selections for assignments, promotions and awards and the list goes on. These behaviors though considered inappropriate are not defined as unacceptable. Worst, the permissive environment creates acceptable behavior.
Incidents of workplace violence can lead to physical altercations, sabotage of personal and business property, theft of property, nuisance phone calls, stalking, harassment and verbal abuse & cyber security concerns.
I know of an elderly female employee who was the victim of constant harassment and verbal abuse by a younger male employee. Although resources were committed to investigate and curtail the behavior, the male employee continued harassing the elderly employee. To get even the employee intensified his attacks. One day the male employee was badly beaten. While correlation was never made between the victim’s sons and the assault, one can only imagine how this behavior can affect others.