A brief: Understanding Workplace Violence and Measures to prevent it

A brief: Understanding Workplace Violence and Measures to prevent it

Violence is not merely killing of each other. It is violence when we use sharp word. Violence is not merely organised butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper. Understanding something multifaceted and complex as workplace violence is not so easy but is one of the most essential and sensitive problem prevailing in our society and all over the world. There is a relief that people are more conscious of workplace violence today but very few cases are reported thus the statistics that we have are very probably underrepresented of the severity of workplace violence. The European Commission has defined workplace violence as involving “incidents where persons are abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances related to their work, involving an explicit or implicit challenge to their safety, wellbeing or health. In attempt to more clearly delineate what is meant by workplace violence we can point out three basic types to help you to understand it properly:

  • Violence acts committed by individuals who have a legitimate right to be on the premises as recipients or providers of services (e.g. clients, patients, students, customers etc.)
  • Violence occurrences that happen to involve co-workers and may also involve people in superior positions
  • Violence occurring primarily due to outsiders with the aim of obtaining something of value, the offender having no legitimate right to be on the premises.

While these are general descriptions to outline the scope of workplace violence. Besides, there can be direct or indirect, active or non-active workplace violence. What are the kinds of individual characteristics That might lead employees to behave violently or aggressively at work? Interestingly, if we ask those who have committed violent or aggressive acts why they have done so, they rarely point to some characteristic or trait they possess to explain their actions. Typically, they will say that someone did something to them that justified the aggressive response. Much of the research evidences point out the following personal characteristics that have been associated with workplace aggression like personal values, personal habits and problems, negative affectivity, perceived anger and stress and negative life experiences. Clearly there are some personal characteristics that may not directly cause violence or aggression but are predisposing factors that obviously play some type of role. In addition to this, some behavioural indicators are also related to violence and aggression at work. Employees who feel that they are being treated unfairly are at higher risk if engaging in violence and aggression. Behaviourally seeing or experiencing frustration at work, or carrying frustration from outside into the work environment or seeking revenge. According to researches, the following are warning signs that should lead an employer or supervisor to take them seriously and probably intervene-

  • Personal changes of any kind
  • Chemical dependency
  • Severe depression
  • Romantic obsession that is ignored or rejected
  • Constant blaming of others
  • Inability to accept criticism
  • Feelings of injustice or unfairness
  • Continuing disputes with Co-workers or family
  • Social isolation
  • Controlling and demanding presence.

Everyone in the organization has an interest in keeping the workplace as safe and free from abuse, violence, and retaliation as is possible. For any organization, the best way to management workplace aggression and violence is prevention. One measure that is essential to any organization trying to find strategies for managing workplace violence and aggression is to have a workplace violence prevention policy statement. Management must apply rule consistently and fairly. There must be investigatory procedures like threat assessment team psychological tests, pre-employment screening and training programs. Therefore general policies and education programs for employees, vendors and management must be followed. There must be proper security measures like employee ID badges. Providing counselling sessions to the victims of violence should be mandatory. In general, good sense, careful planning, support and appropriate responses will go a long way toward preventing problems in the workplace. “If humanity is to evolve beyond the propensity toward violence that now threatens our very survival as a species, then it can only do so by recognizing the extent to which the patriarchal code of honour and shame generates and obligates male violence. If we wish to bring this violence under control, we need to begin by reconstituting what we mean by both masculinity and femininity”. ~ James Gilligan.


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