1 in 2 U.S. Employees Exposed to Workplace Violence

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa.  – More than half of Americans employed outside their homes (52%) have witnessed, heard about or  experienced a violent event or an event that can lead to violence at their workplace, according to a survey released today by Allied Barton. These events include open hostility, abusive language or threats and can escalate to significant physical harm to someone by another person.

“Workplace violence often starts as verbal assaults or harassment and can escalate into threatening behavior, bullying, physical assaults and even, in some instances, deadly encounters,” says Bill Whitmore, Chairman, President and CEO of AlliedBarton Services and author of the study.  “With the significant increase in unemployment in the past several years and the downturn in the economy, there is every reason to believe that these incidents may increase.”

The report shows how a range of stakeholders – from CEOs and senior leaders to building management, human resources, contract security and law enforcement – can work together to lower an organization’s workplace violence risk and enhance its overall morale and performance. 

Other highlights of the research include:

  • 28% of workers report that a violent event or one that can lead to violence happened to them at their current place of employment or they have been personally affect by this type of event. Overall, 12% have witnessed, heard about or are aware of an incidence of significant physical harm to another person, and 5% have had this happen to them or have been personally affected by this type of incident.
  • One in three (34%) Americans employed outside the home are very or somewhat concerned with their personal safety.
  • Workers are reluctant to report violence and related events that occur at their place of employment. Even with high levels of concern for their personal safety, three in 10 (29%) workers who witnessed, heard about or experienced workplace violence did not report the incident or take other action. The most common action taken was reporting the incident to a supervisor or human resources, which was done by two in three (62%) workers. Workers who experienced or are aware of violence are even less likely to take other actions when violence occurs in the workplace. Of those reporting, 21% contacted security, 14% reported the incident to the police and 12% called a confidential employer-provided number.
  • Employers appear reluctant to take aggressive actions when violence occurs. Almost all (94%) employers take some action as a result of workplace violence. However, the most likely type of action taken is meeting with employees. Three in four (73%) workers who witnessed, heard about or experienced workplace violence report their employer held an employee meeting, and 69% say the employer met with the employee who experienced workplace violence.
  • Only half (53%) of employers took disciplinary actions. Even fewer implemented training for employees (45%) or supervisors (35%). Changes to physical environments (31%) or revisions to company policies (22%) were even less common. Increasing security through the involvement of police or other authorities or contracting with a security provider were the actions least likely to be taken as a result of workplace violence.
  • Fewer than half (44%) of senior managers (CEO/president/owner) are perceived as being concerned with workplace violence, with only 17% seen as being very concerned. 
  • Workers who experienced or are aware of violence or the conditions leading to violence at their workplace rate their current place of employment lower on every key measure than those who did not experience, witness or have awareness of these types of events. The most striking distinction involves compensation. While 45% of employees feel they are paid fairly, there are significant differences between those who experienced or are aware of workplace violence and those who have not faced those situations. 55% of those who have not experienced or are not aware of workplace violence strongly agree they are paid fairly. However, only one in three (36%) of those who faced this situation share this attitude.
  • In spite of the high incidence of workplace violence and related events, employees are highly likely to remain committed to their current employers. 71% say they are very committed to their current employer for the next year and an additional 20-percent report they are somewhat committed.
  • Even with a high level of commitment to their current employers, high proportions of workers are seeking or considering seeking a new job. Workplace violence appears to be a significant contributor for workers in seeking a new position. 28% of those who experienced or are aware of workplace violence are looking for or are seriously considering looking for a new job. By contrast, only 17% of those who have not had this experience are considering new employment. Overall, one in four (23%) employees is currently looking for or is seriously considering looking for a new job.

 The results of this survey are featured in the new book, “Potential: Workplace Violence Prevention and Your Organizational Success”, which can be purchased online at http://www.potentialthebook.com/.

Source: Allied Barton Press Release

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