Do you know anyone who has experienced physical or emotional harm at work? Violence is always unacceptable and should not be condoned anywhere in society. However, sadly, workplace violence is still the harsh work reality for many workers across the globe today. Also, it is not discussed as much as it should be. There have been tragic cases, such as homicides, and subtle ones, like verbal and emotional abuse. What triggers it? What are the consequences? How can you find help if you are a victim of workplace violence? Can you stop it or lessen its effect? Let us explore.
Violence in the workplace can take many forms.
Violence at work may be verbal, physical, or psychological abuse. The most frequent instances entail intimidation, character assassination (damaging someone's reputation), physical, speaking, and sexual harassment, as well as vandalism (destroying property). It could be aimed at a particular individual or group of individuals.
Who is the Antagonist? Who is in Danger?
The offender might be a coworker, a worker from a different organization, or even someone you've never met. Anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, etc., is susceptible to workplace violence.
Workplace Violence: the Repercussions
The effects of workplace violence on an employee's mental health are difficult to anticipate because each case is different.
Victims may experience shock, dread, depression, anxiety, job ineffectiveness, lack of confidence, or even bodily damage.
Workplace violence can lead to physical and emotional trauma for victims. They can suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
People who participate in violence may feel guilt and shame. They can also be arrested and sentenced, negatively impacting their lives.
Workplace violence results in decreased productivity.
Workplace violence is a complex issue; there are several factors involved. Here are some common elements leading to violence at work
Stress: Stress is a widespread cause of workplace violence. It could come from high workloads, lack of job satisfaction, burnout, etc.
Mental health issues: mental health problems such as depression or anxiety can drive people down paths that ultimately get them to become violent toward others at work.
Substance abuse: people under the influence of unprescribed/illegal substances can also be prone to be violent at work;
Financial problems: financial problems lead to stress or dissatisfaction
Traumatic history of victimization: people who have untreated PTSD symptoms can become violent at work.
Seek help early. If you, or someone you know, has been abused at work or had any kind of traumatic event at work in the past year, take steps immediately, so your loved ones and others don't suffer from the same fate! Traumatic people also tend to victimize others.
If you feel overwhelmed at work and struggle with productivity or performance, then it may be time to seek help from an employee assistance program (EAP).
Also, those who have experienced traumatic events like this should seek professional help such as therapy; so that they can safely move forward with their lives again.
Reaching out to friends and family, a counselor, or support groups online are effective ways of dealing with this situation.
How Can Organizations Help Impede Workplace Violence?
The first step has a policy in place. A good workplace violence policy should be clear on the following:
What types of behavior are prohibited at work?
How to respond when such circumstances arise? (For example, will you call the police or security guards?
Where are the emergency exits?)
Employees should be trained to know what steps to take if an attack occurs and how to keep themselves safe. Employers must ensure their workplaces are safe environments where employees feel comfortable coming forward and reporting threats against them.
Use available means of protection like pepper spray, helmets (where applicable), etc.
Know your rights as an employee and your employer's policies regarding such behavior.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Preventive and proactive measures to curb workplace violence
Speak up: Never feel embarrassed or ashamed to speak (especially about sexual harassment). Other victims/survivors benefit when someone speaks up.
Be aware of yourself: Knowing what upsets or offends you can help you think about how best to handle it when it happens.
Be aware of other people at work: Learn about their history; violent people usually have an account of violence.
Call the police: take note of the details and report to the police immediately.
Talk to your boss: Employees can also seek professional help through their employers.
A healthy work environment helps increase personal health and happiness; and makes for a healthier, safer society. Please take care of yourself and those you love.