One issue that is of growing concern to Human Resource Managers is violence in the workplace. Violence is described as any incident in which a person is abused, threatened, or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work. Violence can take place in many forms. These include: harassment, bullying, robbery, and any other unwanted, unwelcome, or uncalled for actions. workplace violence not only comes from customers, clients, supervisors and robbers as well. When thinking about workplace violence many factors need to be considered.
Some of these are: – The impact on the person experiencing the violence. – The impact on the person witnessing the violence. – Violence may be external or internal in the organization. – Violence may be aimed at the organization as a whole. Many remedies for violence at work exist.
These include safety measures, surveillance, organizational solutions and training staff in how to deal with potentially dangerous situations. Remedies usually cost very large sums of money, but in the long run, they are very helpful. Human Resource managers and employers hold the responsibility to identify workplace health and safety hazards. In order for them to do this, they must identify tasks or circumstances where workers are likely to be exposed to some form of violence. The reviewing of certain things can help a great deal. Things to be reviewed: – Policies and procedures.
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– Tasks, duties and responsibilities. – Staff attitudes towards the organization and co-workers. – The nature of the contact with customers. Once these hazards are identified, they are to be assessed. An assessment is made of how severe and how likely violence is to occur. To control the occurrences, a plan must be implemented.
There is a hierarchy of controls used. They are: 1. Eliminate the risk. 2. Substitute other methods for doing the task. 3.
Mitigate or lessen the risk. 4. Introduce administrative controls. 5.
Provide appropriate training. 6. Provide personal protective equipment. The following are a few examples of types of violence associated with workplaces from around the world. – In the United States, official statistics show that homicide has become the second leading cause of death at work. It ranks first for death among women in the workforce.
During an average week, 20 workers are murdered and over 18000 are assaulted. – In South Africa, workplace hostilities are reported to be abnormally high. Surveys indicate that the average of 4 out of 5 workers have experienced hostile behaviour at least once in their working lives. – In the United Kingdom, a survey during the 1994/95 year found that over 11000 retail staff had been victims of physical violence and over 350000 had been threatened or verbally assaulted. -In Japan, a bullying hotline made by Tokyo Managers Union received more than 1700 calls for consultations for anything from sexual harassment to bullying and stress.
The calls all came in two short periods of time in June and October of 1996. – In Germany, a survey conducted in 1991 showed that 93 percent of women questioned had been sexually harassed at work at least once in their working lives. Certain work environments create a greater risk of violence than others. Health care is among the highest risk occupations. Other high risk occupations include: – Handling money. (Cashiers, bank tellers) – Providing care, education or advice.
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(Nurses, teachers, social workers) – Enforcement duties. (Police officers) – Working with mentally disturbed people. (Mental health workers) – Working with drunk / intoxicated or potentially violent people. (Prison workers, bar tenders) – Working alone. (Home visitors, taxi drivers) People who work alone and handle money such as gas station attendants and workers in small shops are usually at a higher risk.
Attacks from aggressors usually occur at night time. Intoxication usually plays a large role in violent occurrences. Gender, age and experience also contribute to the risk of suffering violent treatment. Young workers are a prime target because they do not have the experience to deal with the situation as the older workers do. Studies show that women are of a very high risk of violence in and out of the workforce. Over 50 percent of women interviewed in a Canadian survey said that they had been either physically or sexually attacked.
18 percent said the attack resulted in injury. The reason that women are at such a high rates of attacks is because they work in the high risk occupations like health care workers, nurses and teachers. Although women are at a higher risk of sexual attacks, men are still at greater risk of physical attacks. Violence not only affects the person involved, it other people directly and indirectly as well as the workplace and the community as well. Some examples of just how much violence in the workplace costs are as follows: – In Germany the costs of mobbing an enterprise with 1000 workers is calculated to cost 200000 DM per year in direct costs and 100000 DM in indirect costs. – In the United States, the total cost of workplace violence is estimated at about $4 billion against employers.
– In Canada, the amount of wages lost to acts of violence has increased over 88 percent since 1985. Violence in the workplace needs to be considered on three different levels: The Individual Level – people who suffer from violence tend to lose motivation, lose confidence, and reduce self-esteem. They also face depression, anger and anxiety. If violence is not eliminated, it may lead to physical illness, psychological disorders, tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse. Sometimes the individual will even take the extreme and commit suicide or hurt someone else. The Workplace Level – Violence causes immediate as well as long-term disruption to the organization and working environment.
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Employers end up losing money because of reduced productivity and a decrease in product quality. Company image and the number of new clients will also drop. The Community Level – Health-care and rehabilitation costs are huge. These affect the community through rising costs of taxes for unemployment. Retraining victims of violence is a very costly procedure which takes a great deal of time and money. Violence and aggression goes back to not only the situation but to the very nature of the persons involved.
The most significant factors identified in the human race which cause violence are: – Child development and family influence. – Aggressive behaviours are first learned in the family. – Cultural Factors. – The limits of tolerable behaviours are usually defined by the values and beliefs of a culture. – Personality Factors – Past violent behaviour, lack of empathy, and impulsiveness all contribute towards a persons likeliness to react violently. – Substance Abuse.
– There is a close knit relationship between violence and substance abuse. However, it can be questioned whether the violence has more to do with the substance or just the inability to control ones own impulses. – Biological Factors. – Violent behaviour is not an inherited characteristic but hormones are.
Hormones and psychopathic behaviour may play a part in violent behaviour. – Mental Illness. – Mental illness such as paranoid schizophrenia may result in violent acts. – Media Influence.
– Research shows that a person who views a great amount of violence in movies and on t. v. has a greater risk of becoming violent. Violence at work could also be caused by other factors, but most cases are caused by those factors.
Although eliminating all chances of violence in the workplace is almost impossible, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide the employees with the proper training to be able to handle the situation if it is to occur.
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