How can we prevent workplace violence?

How can we prevent workplace violence?

What is workplace violence?

Both employers and employees are still quite concerned about workplace violence. Any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, or intimidation at work is referred to as workplace violence, and it can be committed by anybody, including clients, coworkers, friends, and even strangers.

Related: What are the signs of workplace violence?

Over two million incidents of workplace violence occur annually, costing over one million working days. Employees who work alone, in small groups, with the public, in workplaces where alcohol is served, at night, or in high-crime areas run a higher chance of experiencing workplace violence.

Related: Violence at the workplace: A Guide to HR Professionals

Causes of workplace violence

Workplace aggression and violence is increasingly being recognized as serious problem in society. There are numerous factors identified in the literature that give rise to violence in the workplace. We have categorized those factors from the view of management perspective which is as follows:

Related: Causes of workplace violence

Social Factors

Nowadays, in most third-world countries and also some of the developed nations, violence has become a prevalent element in the media,  which leads to an implied approval of that particular violence. Movies, TV serials, newspapers, cartoons, etc all show ways of being violent and some of them even show violence as being brave or superior to others giving rise to the working young population being violent at the workplace. Weapons are increasingly available, and there is a growing fascination with weapons as tools of power. These social behaviors give rise to and become the cause of increasing aggression and violence in the workplace.

Economic Factors

Today’s eroding economic climate, with small salaries and fewer benefits which are not enough for the employees to survive has become a reason for many working individuals to go into a state of discontent,  unhappiness, and dissatisfaction. Even stable companies are victims of downsizing, re-engineering, and increased use of sub-contractors

rather than full-time employees. There is often a lack of re-entry opportunities for laid-off employees. These factors give rise to workplace violence.

Management-Related Factors

At times,  when firms and organizations employ outdated and impersonal methods to deal  with employee complaints, disillusionment and a lack of trust toward management may develop. Wrongful discharge cases can stretch over years, allowing anger to build. This can serve as a slow poison that can aggravate emotions which then results in the workplace


How can we prevent workplace violence?

Training in workplace violence prevention can lessen all three risks. To ensure that your workplace violence prevention training is successful, follow these seven steps:

  • Review your workplace
  • Establish a welcoming environment
  • Training in communication and empathy is available. A clear workplace violence policy is in place.
  • Maintain a workplace free from violence.
  • teach staff how to spot warning flags
  • Make a plan of action, communicate it to the team, then put it into action.

Let’s take a closer look at these procedures.

1. Examine your location of employment

To determine where the majority of your workplace violence prevention training should concentrate, a thorough investigation of your workplace is required. To assess your readiness to prevent workplace violence, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has there ever been violence at your place of employment?
  • who participated, when, and what kind?
  • What was done about it?
  • What systems were implemented subsequently, and how successful were they?
  • What are you doing well if there haven’t been any violent occurrences at your business in the past?
  • Do your workplace violence policies have any gaps? Where?
  • How secure are the surroundings? What doors are always locked? How are workers safeguarded if they depart late at night?

Some businesses have never thought about how a quick review of current organizational structures might assist pinpoint possible risk factors for workplace violence. These queries may be useful.

2. Establish a welcoming atmosphere

Every training program begins with establishing a rapport with the participants. Making employees feel heard and supported at work is something you and your HR department must prioritize.

For instance, this can encourage coworkers who are victims of domestic violence to open up to you. You can then react appropriately if the domestic spouse appears at work. This implies that, regardless of who they are reporting to, employees who report possible violence or verbally threatening comments should be encouraged and not subject to punishment. All company levels and clients are subject to workplace violence policies.

3. Provide instruction in empathy and communication

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Offering employees training in effective, compassionate communication helps stop workplace violence before it begins. Workplace violence training frequently focuses on how to handle a violent episode as it is happening.

4. Create a clear policy against workplace violence

How will you respond to violence at work? What resources or sanctions are available for threats that are made both verbally and nonverbally?

Start there if you haven’t already for your business, then inform the staff through ongoing, consistent training.

5. Commit to a workplace free from violence.

A commitment to a violent-free workplace entails routinely dedicating time and money to employee development and violence prevention.

6. Educate staff members to recognize the danger

An incident can be prevented before it begins by educating workers to recognize the warning signs of potential workplace violence. Some or all of the following are red flags of potential violence:

  • Excessive alcohol or drug usage
  • A change in behavior that includes inferior work performance
  • Moodiness or withdrawal
  • Remarks concerning alleged unfairness
  • breach of corporate rules
  • Mood swings and excessive responses to criticism or assessments
  • Paranoia

It is significant to remember that people who are not mentally ill can commit acts of workplace violence. There is a propensity to oversimplify workplace violence by attributing it to mental illness, although this is typically not the case.

7. Make a plan of action, communicate it to the team, then put it into action.

Nuclear attack drills were used in the 1950s; in the 21st century, lockdown drills and active shooter scenarios have taken their place. Even while having a strategy in place could save lives, nobody likes to consider the worst-case scenario, much less put it into reality regularly.

Other than the steps above preventative measures can be implemented

There are and can be several ways workplace violence and aggression can be prevented. Some of the major actions that can prevent workplace violence as follows:

  • Assemble a Crisis Management Team
  • Mobilize Professional Advisers
  • Create a Crisis Management Plan
  • Establish a Violence-Protection Policy
  • Know Your Employment Laws
  • Use Proper Employee-Selection Techniques
  • Recognize Signs of Trouble
  • Provide Coaching or Counseling
  • Take Disciplinary Action

Implementing the above measures would enable organizations and their managers to:

  • Gain a better understanding and perspectives of their employees.
  • Identify potential problem areas that can lead to violent action from employees.
  • Effectively resolving situations that warrant attention before a serious incident occurs.
  • Communicate to employees the decisive and obvious stance of senior management on violence in the workplace.
  • Educating employees about violence in the workplace and the nature and availability of the company’s program in this area.
  • Seek criminal history information.
  • Conduct employee attitude surveys to uncover potential problems or risks, and then address the issue.
  • Develop a confidential process for employees to report threatening conditions or circumstances to management.
  • Identify proactive options & avenues of action before the occurrence of problem situations.
  • Develop a company-wide memorandum and update company policies and employee handbooks and a committee should be created to deal with these issues

Related: Workplace violence examples

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