Every company faces unique challenges when implementing measures for workplace violence prevention. In fact, many need to figure out where to look first and which areas require urgent attention.
For example, how do you tell who is the bully at the office? Similarly, how could a cessation of a contract result in a hostile termination with far-reaching consequences? For starters, it's important to note that:
- Every individual is distinctive, and
- Each narcissist and aggrieved person is unique.
Thus, this calls for a special approach to every case, although there are certain overarching principles in workplace violence prevention that we will lay out.
But first, let's explore the reasons for workplace violence and what happens when leaders are bullied by their subordinates or team.
Causes of Violent Behavior
Workplace violence happens top-bottom and bottom-up. Anyone can be a victim or a perpetrator, from middle managers to regular employees.
Generally speaking, there are a few reasons why people decide to engage in bullying others at work:
- Underlying trauma and abuse from childhood or young adulthood,
- Mental illness that has either been diagnosed or not (or they may be refusing treatment),
- Burnout from work, no social life, and no vacations,
- Anxiety and high levels of stress and worry,
- Perceived humiliation or embarrassment, and
- Physical condition, like a gastrointestinal disease.
These individuals are at a higher risk of either becoming violent or being subjected to violence. Therefore, when hiring new employees, it's worth doing a background check on them to avert future trouble.
The Impacts and Overcoming Them
Workplace violence affects everyone to a certain degree, even creating a domino effect. A single perpetrator can negatively impact large parts of the workforce. For illustration, imagine a victim of workplace violence who goes home unsure of how they should address the issue.
Firstly, they may have trouble falling asleep as rumination kicks in. They are scared and worried about how this could impact their future in the workplace — and if they should report it.
The next day they show up at work feeling exhausted due to the sleepless night; this person is at a higher risk of anxiety because of sleep deprivation. In fact, some studies show that if a person is suffering from insomnia, this is highly similar to showing up at work drunk.
In more extreme cases, not treating anxiety (and sleeplessness) could result in panic attacks, which leads to:
- Loss of confidence, and
- Isolation due to vulnerability.
Likewise, the person feels uncoordinated, and their full capacity is not onboard. Most worryingly, they tend to make many mistakes and are more prone to saying and doing something they usually wouldn't do, like insulting or harassing fellow coworkers.
For this reason, we suggest nipping the problem in the bud. One method may be engaging security personnel to institute access control measures for the sake of workplace violence prevention. For illustration, a front desk could be the point where security guards check the mental and physical condition of the person and talk to HR about letting them in.
Workplace Violence Prevention 101
No company can hope to eliminate workplace violence without internal procedures and policies. All things being equal, those that don't have these in place suffer much more loss in productivity and retention than any other.
That's why our first advice is to have an HR department, even if you need to contract it for one-offs. Human resources experts are the first line of defense against workplace violence. They can recognize the early signs and train other employees to do so as well.
In addition, the HR department presents an excellent way to de-escalate a situation before it transpires. For instance, suppose an aggrieved worker feels like their manager is mistreating them. They could open up to HR professionals, expressing their wish to harm the manager. In this case or prior to it, the HR staff could react by implementing workplace violence prevention approaches:
- Instituting prevention policies,
- Creating an effective line of communication,
- Conducting background checks on new employees,
- Encouraging everyone to report all violent incidents,
- Identifying organizational risk factors,
- Establishing a strict anti-violence policy,
- Implementing violence awareness training.
In 99% of cases, your best shot at resolving disputes at work will be a trained and experienced human resources department. The second best shot is the employees themselves, who receive guidance and training from the HR professionals.
And yet, some forms of workplace violence are more extreme, like disgruntled employees and hostile terminations. In these instances, we recommend hiring security guards who can serve as visual deterrents. In other words, their mere presence can be used as a measure of workplace violence prevention.
Depending on the country and legislature your company is in, bullying, violence, and harassment can be defined differently. In any case, we suggest documenting every instance of workplace violence and using the records in cases where the authorities have to step in.
From a legal standpoint, what matters is the motivation behind the act. At the end of the day, what matters is why they are doing it — not what they are doing and how they are doing it.
Likewise, some people don't differentiate between the terms workplace bullying, hostile work environment, and toxic workplace. In this case, contacting a law office specialized in this field is helpful to avoid legal repercussions.
With that said, workplace violence doesn't only happen in the workplace per se. It can occur beyond the work environment and still have far-reaching consequences for the company and its staff.
One example is surveilling workers and company leaders to extricate information about their habits and movements. The goal of this action is, of course, to harm them or gather information that could benefit the competition. Unfortunately, this is an act that many disgruntled former or current employees engage in as a means of retaliation for perceived grievances.
At any rate, preventing workplace violence isn't as straightforward as some may believe. It's a web of issues, concerns, and security gaps that corporate leaders must address urgently to avoid increased:
- Job stress,
- Worker turnover,
- Family turmoil, and
Bedrock Special Projects provides peace of mind by implementing workplace violence prevention measures to benefit prominent individuals, their families, and corporations. The Art of Executive Protection – Delivered with Elegance by Design.
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