March 29, 2017 - April is Workplace Violence Month, a good time to think about our own violence risks. Workplace violence is often in the news, usually in the form of shootings, but workplace violence runs the gamut from bullying to physical violence of all types. It usually underreported for one reason or another. It can be caused by almost anything... an argument at home, a reprimand from a boss, a restraining order, etc. Awareness and alertness on the part of management are two ways to spot potential violence, but employee training can also help identify the risk. This week’s articles look at various strategies to identify and deal with this ever-escalating problem.
Most of us associate bullying with children and schools. Rarely do we think of adults at a professional workplace. However, approximately 27% of American adults have past or current experience with bullying in the workplace. The actual numbers are most likely significantly higher. Due to its psychological nature, bullying is often difficult to detect and can easily be confused with workplace conflict. Moreover, the lack of legal protections along with lack of proper policies and procedures in organizations discourages reporting this form of abuse, particularly because consequences, if any, are uncertain
A very real, clear and present danger lurks just beyond the consciousness of people who work together eight to ten hours a day, five to seven days a week. It is the potential for violence to occur in your workplace. Increasingly, the Human Resources function is both the target of these threats of workplace violence and the organization's first line of defense for the prevention of workplace violence.
While you cannot accurately predict everyone who may present a risk of workplace violence, perhaps you can anticipate and head off some incidents. Many workplace violence episodes are related to non-work issues and may include family or marital conflict, divorces, and child custody disputes. And if served with legal process while at work, an employee may use violence to take out such frustrations towards bosses and colleagues simply because coworkers are nearby. Rather than take a reactive approach to workplace violence, you should consider acting proactively in an effort to stop these incidents.
Once upon a time, employees who were dissatisfied with how management treated them might respond by organizing, filing a grievance or suing. If they were really frustrated, they might refuse to sign the warning notice or performance appraisal form that was presented to them in protest. Nowadays it is not uncommon for disgruntled employees to push the boundaries of behavior much further, even to the point of killing supervisors or managers. Employers have an opportunity to observe behaviors in their employees before they erupt into verbal or physical hostility... a first line supervisor plays a key role in stopping workplace violence in its tracks.
Violence in the workplace continues to be a growing concern. In fact, there are over two million incidents of workplace violence each year, not including those that go unreported. For this reason, it's important for companies, whether large or small, to take every reasonable precaution to keep their workplace safe. By detecting and interceding "at risk" or intimidating behavior in the early stages, the threat can oftentimes be mitigated and/or avoided, in some cases, before it becomes dangerous or even life threatening.
In this paper, DeAnn Wandler discusses the escalating numbers associated to violence in the workplace as well as which occupations are at greater risk and the staggering costs to organizations. And, perhaps most importantly, Ms. Wandler addresses the steps employers can adopt to lessen the risk of violence in their work environment and safeguard the lives of their staff.
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