The United States Department of Labor suggests that around two million Americans experience workplace violence yearly. But what is workplace violence really? In a nutshell, it comprises violent behavior or the threat of violence against workers, including CEOs, managers, and administrative staff alike.
Generally speaking, there are four categories of workplace violence, including the following:
- Criminal intent,
- Worker-on-worker, and
- Personal relationship.
Workplace violence may stem from ill-regulated internal policies within organizations. Moreover, some firms and institutions may not even have procedures to address this issue. Nonetheless, the predicament endures and affects anyone anywhere at any time worldwide.
In the European Union, some estimates indicate that up to 20 percent of workers suffer from work-related and non-sexual-related harassment. At any rate, this is a significant problem in the post-industrial world.
Workplace-related violence can occur both inside and outside the office or enterprise facilities. If employees fear for their safety, they are less likely to stay in an organization. Hence, this reflects poorly on their
- Productivity, and
Additionally, malefactors could target employers, such as CEOs, board members, or UHNW individuals. For example, the latter could undergo threats, intimidation, or other indicators of violence. In this case, we recommend implementing a workplace violence prevention program and accompanying training.
Thus, let us explore the nitty-gritty of workplace violence and how it inhibits business goals.
#1 What Is Workplace Violence: The Cost of Ignoring Risks
Some employees — and employers — are at a higher risk of workplace violence than others. What's more, they may not only be victims of other workers but that of external actors.
For instance, those operating in the banking sector or otherwise exchanging money with the public are uniquely prone to violent behavior from those who wish to become wealthy by acting violently.
Similarly, employees in high-crime areas can undergo unimaginable workplace violence if there aren't sufficient deterrents in place. Some of these may include:
- CCTV cameras,
- Security personnel, and
- Fences, mobile patrols, and other physical obstacles.
In stark contrast to these measures being in place, workers may feel unsafe to a degree they couldn't care less about the company's profits. It is obvious how this mindset can adversely affect the bottom line.
Nevertheless, some corporations simply ignore these risks and rely on "business as usual." However, here are a few potential consequences of ignoring risk:
- Injury and death,
- Theft of sensitive information,
- Catastrophic losses across departments,
- Failure to grow as a company and individual employees,
- Lawsuits against the company by workers, and
- Lack of transparency and low morale in the workforce.
Any of these could spell an end to the most prominent firms, let alone smaller companies with 50-100 employees. Therefore, we recommend never ignoring risks that may permanently hamper your company's future.
Legally speaking, doing nothing will be much more expensive than taking proactive measures to mitigate the risk.
For instance, we assess the risks and threat levels using the CARVER methodology — a qualitative and a quantitative assessment of an asset's vulnerabilities.
#2 What Is Workplace Violence: Hostile Terminations
The average US-based company has around 20 workers. In total, approximately 107 million Americans work in private service-providing industries. With so many companies and employees operating around the clock, senior staff will inevitably deem somebody unfit for a role, resulting in their termination.
Luckily, most layoffs will be pain-free for the company. However, others could get messy, bringing about harassment and poor behavior by former or disgruntled employees.
For instance, they could:
- Demoralize other staff members,
- Steal sensitive information, or
- Attack the employer or manager physically and verbally.
In other cases, former or disgruntled employees could act as your competition's best promoter, leading to decreased retention and productivity.
The US Department of Labor states that "Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide."
As we can see from this definition, the question of what is workplace violence is far broader in scope than the visible and physical consequences. Yet, sadly, many employees fail to report it to their managers. Instead, they keep it to themselves, hoping it will go away after some time.
Unfortunately, the former or disgruntled employee typically doesn't stop until they get what they were after: a disruption in business continuity. Although they may have other goals in mind, they usually wish to harm their current or former employer by sowing the seed of distrust among the workforce.
For all the benefits of the modern workplace, there are plenty of adversities. This article explored how violence at work manifests and who are the typical perpetrators.
To wrap up, here are the main takeaways from this article where we discuss what is workplace violence:
- Four categories of workplace violence exist: criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker, and personal relationships.
- Workplace violence can occur outside and inside company facilities and is an issue across the post-industrial world, including the United States and the European Union.
- Certain employers and employees are at a higher risk of workplace violence than others due to their operations and exposure to the public.
- An unsafe work environment decimates retention, productivity, and engagement at the job.
- Physical barriers and visual deterrents to workplace violence include CCTV cameras, security personnel, and fences.
- Neglecting risk can lead to theft of sensitive information, catastrophic losses, failure to grow as a company, and workers' lawsuits.
- Around 25 percent of workplace violence goes unreported.
Finally, before any act of workplace violence takes place, we advise assessing the risks and responding appropriately.
The truth is that emergencies don't happen until they do. Wherever they work, employees and employers alike want to enjoy the environmental conditions that support better business outcomes and the mental health of everyone involved.
Bedrock Special Projects provides peace of mind by implementing workplace violence prevention programs to benefit prominent individuals, their families, and corporations. The Art of Executive Protection – Delivered with Elegance by Design.
Drop us a line to learn more!