1. What is workplace violence?!
It is the violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, one of the leading causes of job-related deaths. Workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees alike. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), roughly 20,000 assaults and 792 homicides occurred at workplaces throughout the US in 2005. Such violence prompted the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to label workplace violence a “national epidemic”.
2. What leads to workplace violence?!
There are several causes for workplace violence including economic, social, psychological, and organizational issues. Employees may refuse to confront aggressive behavior, which often stems from problems away from the job. Violence might be a reaction to issues that negatively affect employee’s lives, such as broken relations, employee layoffs, lack of support, mishandled termination and sudden behavior change. The unsatisfied employee takes out his anger against co-workers and supervisors. Companies can better protect their workforce when they examine all causes of violence. Violence in all its forms is a concern for both staff and management; From the employee’s perspective; violence can cause pain, distress and even disability or death whether it’s a physical attack - which is obviously dangerous - and also verbal abuse that can damage employee’s health. From the employers perspective; violence can lead to poor morale and poor image for the organization, making it difficult to recruit and retain staff and it can lead to extra cost for the organization such as having higher absenteeism rate, higher insurance premium, fines and severance payments.
3. Alternatives to reduce and prevent workplace violence:
A. Identifying risk factors and symptoms of work place violence
B. Developing & implementing a workplace violence prevention program & policy
C. Establish clear code of conduct
4. Evaluation of Alternatives:
A. Identify risk factors and symptoms of workplace violence: To intervene in a timely and appropriate manner before an incident occurs, it’s very important to be able to identify risk factors and symptoms of workplace violence. Employees should be aware of this issue so they can report any potential incident to management. Management should have a plan in place for appropriate and timely intervene. Employee may be facing psychological problems or stress that can lead to violence in the workplace, whether towards colleagues or management, some of the indications for potential incidents can be as follows:
• Sudden complaint about being treated unfairly
• Blaming others for personal problems
• Sudden change in behavior, deterioration in job performance
• Sudden increase in absenteeism
• Poor relationships with managers and coworkers
• Refusal to accept negative feedback about job performance
• Financial problems combined with a poor pay raise or not receiving a promotion
• Sudden mood swings or depression
B. Developing and implementing a workplace violence prevention program and policy It is very useful for organizations to have a prevention program in place, the most important thing is establishing a system for documenting violent incidents in the workplace.
• Implementation of the reporting system for the program should be published and distributed companywide as well as appropriate training and awareness sessions should be scheduled – for existing and new employees. Everyone should be encouraged to make the policy their own.
• The commitment of management is crucial to the success of the program.
• Set up procedures to handle complaints confidentially and quickly, these should include measures to prevent recurrence of any type of workplace violence. It’s critical to ensure that victim feels safe against retaliation and has the right, if needed, to be represented when interviewed by an independent and qualified investigator.
• Develop an anonymous hotline / helpdesk for workplace violence reporting
C. Establish a clear code of conduct:
A defined and clear code of conduct with Zero-Tolerance with respect to moral harassment and other types of workplace violence can be established and clearly communicated to everyone in the organization. This can reflect the organization’s commitment to preventing and responding to acts of violence. Organizing awareness and training sessions is the key for having an effective code of conduct, especially if it’s included in the new employee’s orientation / onboarding process.
It will be very useful for an organization to have the following in place: • Establish a clear code of conduct • Develop and implement a workplace violence prevention program and policy