According to a survey by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 2 million people reported a case of workplace violence in the United States annually. As if that isn’t scary per se, an estimated 25% of all cases of workplace violence go unreported.
These facts and figures are only trying to show us something: much work needs to be done towards preventing workplace violence in the United States. Sadly, many business owners still have no idea what to do to avoid this from happening right under their watch.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the major causes of workplace violence. Then, you’ll learn some strategies that have historically proven to be very effective at preventing workplace violence and how you can implement them to prevent this menace in your workplace.
What Are the Causes of Workplace Violence?
To solve any problem effectively, it’s important to identify the causes of the problem in the first place. However, it’s only sad that most business owners still have no idea why this violence occurs, signaling that they don’t have the necessary knowledge to combat it at hand.
With that said, it only makes sense that a post written on preventing workplace violence will show some of the reasons why they occur. Here are some of the causes of workplace violence in most organizations worldwide.
Most workers at any given organization have personal issues they’re dealing with, in addition to the potentially stressful schedule, they need to endure at work. When you couple these factors, you’ll understand why some people seem to lose it when dealing with others at work.
While there’s little that most employers can do about a stressed employee, some bosses are actually to blame for the mental health of their employees. Overworking your employees, disapproving leave requests, and personal abuse are great ways to cultivate stressed employees.
Inadequate screening before employment
Most employers do enough performance tests to ensure that employees are good fits for the business. A test that most people pay no attention to, however, are background checks on the previous conduct of employees the company’s hiring.
In some cases, employers may unknowingly hire someone who has had a history of assaulting colleagues. Skipping the background check will make it impossible to determine this, leaving a chance to hire someone that could perpetrate workplace violence.
Angry customer or ex-worker
The Karen trend recently took the world by storm, and probably for a good reason. Certain employees, especially those that work closely with customers stand a chance to be assaulted by those customers when they get angry. This kind of workplace violence is common in convenience stores and related businesses.
However, the assaulter is not always a disgruntled customer. In some cases, ex-workers who feel they were wronged by the establishment could come back to the company, assaulting their former bosses or other workers in the organization to show their displeasure.
While all of these kinds of workplace violence are unacceptable, they still exist, sadly. This unwanted existence shows that employers and employees alike must do something to prevent workplace violence. The following section will outline the best steps to preventing workplace violence.
How to Prevent Workplace Violence
One strategy that doesn’t work when trying to eradicate workplace violence is pretending like your colleagues or employees are all “saints”. Hearing anecdotal reports from assaulted individuals, you’ll understand how common the menace is and why there’s a need to fight against it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an employer or employee; there’s always something you can do to avoid violence in the workplace. Here are some of the strategies that you should adopt instead of ignoring them, and why they work.
Encourage speak-up culture
The first and most important step to eradicating workplace violence is exposing those who already partake in it and banishing them from the workplace. You can do this by encouraging your employees to speak up whenever they feel threatened by another member of the same workplace.
By encouraging such a culture, you can easily fish out existing offenders, while putting potential offenders on their toes. Encouraging this indirectly means creating an avenue where employees can report violence, even if they prefer to do so anonymously.
Perform thorough background checks on new hires
After flushing out anyone who might pose a threat to other employees in your workplace, you also want to ensure that you’re not hiring anyone who could exhibit workplace violence anymore. The best way to ensure this is to run background checks on incoming employees as a regular part of the vetting process.
If you find any indication of a violent past, you may want to hold off on offering them the job. Unless the individual has undergone counseling and their words show that they take full responsibility for their actions, they’re very likely to exhibit violent behaviors again, as evidenced by many reports.
Mediate issues between employees
Tensions normally arise between people, especially when they live or work together over extended periods. It’s your duty as an employer to ensure that the tensions don’t escalate to damaging verbal or physical attacks on either of the people involved.
One easy way to ensure that is the case is to mediate issues between employees with disagreement. Letting them settle things on their own could lead to a heated argument, which could, in turn, lead to physical abuse, something that you wouldn’t want to happen in the first place.
Have employees undergo violence prevention training
One of the least stressful ways to prevent workplace violence is having all of your employees undergo a training program specifically aimed at preventing workplace violence. There are many of them available, some offline, and a great many of them available online.
These programs usually teach interpersonal relationships without having to resort to violence. Also, employees will learn how to speak up against the menace, relieving you of a huge deal of the work. There’s enough proof that these programs work, and it should be a requirement for all workplaces.
Identify the warning signs of workplace violence
According to survivors of extreme instances of workplace violence, there’s usually some indication that is wrong before the person in question usually perpetrates the violent act. Recognizing these signs before the fact will make it easier to prevent violence in the workplace.
Read about other instances of the issue and pay special attention to the warning signs. If any of your employees show something similar, you may want to have a long discussion with them before things start to get out of hand in the organization.
Ensure you’re not the problem
It’s always difficult to detect the problem when it’s indeed yourself. Some bosses are to be held responsible for most of the cases of violence that happen in the workplace since they have no idea how to manage workers to prevent them from exhibiting violent tendencies.
You should consider discussing with your employees any personal problems that might be interfering with their work performance. When someone is severely troubled, it becomes highly probable for them to exhibit violent tendencies.
If you’re not proactive at identifying the risk factors and mitigating them, you might be the problem after all. Following all the steps above, in addition to working with your employees fairly might be the best strategy for preventing workplace violence in your business or startup.
Preventing workplace violence is one of the duties of everyone in the workplace since workplace violence is unacceptable. There are many ways to prevent assault, threats, and general violence in the workplace and you should be implementing them in your startup.
In this article, I’ve outlined some of the root causes of workplace violence. Also, I listed the solutions to this problem and some of the reasons why these solutions are effective. Practicing everything in this article is essential to eliminating workplace violence.