Workplace Violence Term Paper

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[. . .] Other factors cited were dealing with customers and lack of cooperation of other people.

The study concluded that, whereas overt anger captures the attention, it's the underground, chronic anger that should be getting more of management's time. It manifests itself in subtle ways, if at all. Angry workers are less likely to put their best efforts into their job; are more apt to be competitive, rather than cooperative, in dealing with their associates; and less likely to tell the boss if they find a better or quicker way to get their job done.

Monahan (1992) emphasizes the importance of identifying potentially volatile situations before they reach the point of violence. This emphasis broadens the definition of workplace violence to include verbal forms of violence, as well as physical. Other experts in the area of workplace violence encourage employers to include verbal forms of violence, such as threats, harassment, and intimidation, in their violence prevention policies (Labig, 1995).

Jobs that appear to be high risk have found the following factors to be associated with workplace violence:

Exchanging money;

Working alone at night and during early morning hours;

Having money, valued items, jewelry, or other items that are easily exchanged for cash;

Performing public safety functions in the community;

Working with patients, clients, or customers known to have or suspected of having a history of violence; and Working with employees with a history of assaults or who exhibit belligerent, intimidating, or threatening behavior toward others. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1993).

Identifying jobs with these high-risk factors highlights not only the features of the assailant but also the assailant's relationship with the victim. Acts of violence from strangers in cases where money is exchanged, employees are working at vulnerable places or times, or employees are responsible for valuable materials are primarily acts of instrumental aggression used to commit an act of robbery. In contrast to the stranger relationship, clients, patients, and even subordinates or coworkers who have used violent behavior in the past will often continue using violence for a number of reasons including a means to get their needs met and reduce frustration. The need to consider the relationship between victim and assailant is also important (Jenkins, 1996).

Characteristics of Violent Behavior Patterns

There are eight categories of behavior patterns that are recognized for intervention (McDonald, 2001). Although managers need to be trained to detect those behaviors, they should never point out an employee's potential to be violent. The Human Resources Management team should also to provide appropriate and adequate training for employees to prevent workplace violence. Instead they need to treat the behaviors exactly as they would treat tardiness. Intervention at this stage, which requires training and counseling, will encourage employees to either get the help they need or quit because they're fed up with being picked on.

The eight categories of high-risk behaviors include what is termed as actor behavior. This is a title that is used to describe the behavior of a worker who acts out of anger, such as throwing paper, yelling, or slamming doors, rather than working to resolve issues. Fragment behavior describes the behavior of an employee who sees no connection between his or her behavior and the outcome. "Me-first" behavior is common to employees that do whatever suits them, regardless of any negative impact on the company, team or customer.

Mixed-messenger behavior defines the behavior of a two-faced and "backstabbing" employee. Wooden-stick behavior, the behavior of an employee that is extremely rigid, inflexible and controlling. Escape artist behavior, describes the behavior for dealing with stress that may include lying or substance abuse.

A person's behavior that is extreme or that might be out of character is termed as "shocker behavior." A reliable employee who suddenly stops showing up, performing or dressing adequately for the job exhibits "shocker behavior." Stranger behavior is characterized by poor social skills, poor hygiene, becoming withdrawn, or talking to themselves.

To respond to these behaviors managers should learn to recognize then identify and document high-risk behaviors. Employees should be shown how the behaviors are interfering with their jobs. Referral may be made for employees to employee assistance programs or counseling. Management should only discuss the situation with the employee, human resources representatives and others who are directly involved.

How Public Relations Perceives the Affects of Workplace Violence management is just now starting to recognize the enormity of the financial consequences associated with an incident involving workplace violence (Mattman, 2001). The three most affected areas are costly litigation, lost productivity, and damage control. Companies are liable when the Human Resources department fails to acknowledge workplace violence or does not have a policy in place to address problem. Fifty five million dollars in wages are lost each year due to workplace violence. Almost two million days of work are lost each year due to this problem (Taylor, 1991). Research conducted revealed that multiple lawsuits were filed against the employer in each instance where the act resulted in deaths or injuries. The causes for the litigation involving acts of violence by employees are generally negligent hiring and negligent retention. Since most cases are settled out of court, accurate average costs are not known. There are, however, several recent awards in excess of 3 million dollars, including the $4.25 million awarded on December 3, 1993 to a postal employee shot by a co-worker in Dearborn, Michigan.

Lost productivity following an incident is frequently underestimated. Losses in productivity occur throughout the enterprise with decreases of up to 80% for up to two weeks immediately after the incident. The unavailability of the killed or injured worker causes a loss for the productivity output for the company. Work interruptions caused by police and internal security investigations and damage to the facility, time lost by surviving employees talking about the incident and the details leading up to it, decreased efficiency and productivity due to post-traumatic stress syndrome, and time spent by employees in counseling sessions.

Companies that experience a workplace violence related incident also have a dramatic increase in employee turnover and an equally dramatic drop in employee morale. Among the many reasons cited for these changes is the fact that most individuals readily accept responsibility for their own safety and security at home. However, almost all employees feel that it is the employer's duty to provide a safe work environment. Therefore, employees feel betrayed when a violent incident occurs at work. The direct financial consequences of turnover and low morale are hiring and training expenditures and decreased productivity.

Damage control has both tangible and intangible cost factors. Media accounts of the incident, whether accurate or not, and rumors that always follow, may influence the buying decisions of the firm's customers. Restoring the corporation's reputation following charges of incompetent or irresponsible management may require a major commitment of both human and financial resources.

Solutions and Management of Workplace Violence

All companies should have a policy for preventing and reporting workplace violence. Early training and identification skills can help risk managers and insurance companies in two ways. One, the violence will never occur, or second, if it does occur then the organization is in a better legal position for having offered the training in the first place

Rules and procedures should be clearly defined and written on paper. Creating an effective workplace violence policy begins with spelling out rules to workers. Many businesses form a committee consisting of managers, employees and human resources personnel who develop a policy based on the specific needs of the company. The committee creates consensus and fosters buy-in by employees. By allowing employees to have involvement, they gain a sense of ownership to the company and the development of rules or guidelines.

A company should review its' hiring policies. Companies would be practical to increase the use of background checks, reference verification and applicant screening to help identify potentially troubled workers. Potential employees might attend company-training sessions that outline procedures that the company endorses which would address workplace violence. Upon hiring, the employee would sign-off on the procedure training that material presented during training was understood and that company policy would be followed.

A grievance system should be developed and utilized. Offering disgruntled employees a place to voice their anger can stem violence. The forum to air a complaint could be a committee of managers and employees, or simply an open-door policy on the part of supervisors. Employers often discover that the source of a worker's rage is a personal crisis outside of work, and can suggesting proper counseling. Listening to employees with concerns about workplace violence is a key factor in protecting those who feel they may be in danger. Providing an environment in which employees will report such conditions is an important first step. Concerns may be motivated by circumstances such as a perceived hostile work environment, threats or physical action by fellow workers or supervisors, and actual criminal acts which occur at work.

Security personnel and measures should… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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