Preventing Violence in the Workplace

One in four Americans admits to being a victim of bullying as an adult (Veraquest 2014).  Did you know that adult bullying predominates in the workplace compared to other environments?  Violence in the workplace is not limited to physical abuse, it can also be psychological, verbal, or emotional.  We’ll look at some types of violence, the warning signs, and how to prevent and deal with this growing workplace epidemic.

Violence in workplace

 

 

 

 

 

Image:  Veraquest (2014)

TYPES OF VIOLENCE

Bullying is the most prevalent form of violence in the workplace and encompasses social undermining, belittling, and personal attacks.  Bullies use these tactics to achieve a false sense of power.

While adult bullying is not a new concept, it has become a fervent topic among employers, as workplace crimes and violence continue to rise.

Other forms of bullying, which can lead to violent behavior, include humiliation, intimidation, ostracism, hazing, political slandering, and cyber bullying.

Exclusion is a more subtle form of bullying and is the act of intentionally isolating individuals from the team.  Minimization occurs when the perpetrator discounts others or their work and unfairly diminishes someone else’s views or concerns.  Perpetrators may also create conflict intentionally, be deceptive, or give unreasonable criticism to coworkers.

So, how do employers know when or if it is appropriate to take action?

WARNING SIGNS AND COMMON TRAITS

People who have tendencies toward violence may display these warning signs and common traits:

  • Paranoia
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Severe mood swings
  • Resistance to company policy
  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol
  • Poor hygiene or decreased personal appearance

(Gibson, 2017)

Other signs to watch for include increased absences, depression, withdrawal, talk of suicide, or threats of bodily harm against others.  If an employee is concerned about a co-worker’s behavior, he or she should communicate the concern to the appropriate person, whether that’s the human resources manager or the supervisor.

HOW TO PREVENT AND DEAL WITH VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE

Employers need to address the issues as they become known to prevent escalation of the unwelcomed behavior.  Implement programs and policies to inform employees of behavioral expectations, and create programs that encourage positive ways to deal with violence.  Communication is critical in helping employees shift their behaviors to ensure security and well-being in the workplace.

circleL.E.A.P.S. is a communication method that represents listening, empathizing, asking, paraphrasing, and summarizing.  Listening to an employee’s grievances is critical to understand how to help him or her.  Whether this person is the perpetrator or the target, empathy is essential.  People want to feel understood.  Paraphrasing can help with fact-finding and clarity of the issue.  And finally, summarizing the incident in a concise, inarguable statement can help employers determine the next steps for resolution.

Given the growing concern about violence and bullying in the workplace, companies are adopting workplace violence prevention programs, which include a prevention policy, a violence response plan, and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  These tools can help employers navigate the uncertainty of workplace violence.   The goals are to make sure employees feel safe at work, can openly communicate concerns to management, and can get the help they need when they are faced with challenges in the workplace.

Daman offers its employees an EAP, in addition to on-site health and wellness programs.  These programs are put in motion by Human Resources (HR), the Better Living Committee (BLC), the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the Daman Products Athletic Association (DPAA).  Next month we’ll feature these groups and how they work together to implement wellness programs at Daman.

Resources:
On-Demand Webinar: Preventing Workplace Violence (2017).  By Gibson Insurance.
Adult Bullying (2014).  By Veraquest Rapid Research.