FRANKFORT, KY (1/12/13) – Workplace Violence is taking a huge toll on productivity of America’s workforce, according to Lt. Robert Carter of the Madisonville, KY Police Department.
Carter, speaking to the Madisonville Rotary Club Wednesday, said that 15% of America’s workforce has experienced abusive behavior in the work place. And, these statistics may not be reflective of the total problem because many incidents are not reported. Carter stated that the one to two million reported incidents each year may not tell the entire story. Many victims do not report incidents for fear of retaliation by the offending party or even the employer.
Employers are reluctant to take preventive actions thinking that “it’s someone else’s problem”. Carter said that the “Better thee than me” syndrome plays into our thinking. “We think that the problem will always happen to others and not to us.” Carter said.
This thinking may not be a prevalent with the Madisonville Rotary Club since one of the members was violently attacked by an employee. The employee attacked with an iron pipe and broke both arms of his boss. Fortunately, other employees were able to restrain the attacker before more serious injuries. CLICK HERE < http://surfky.com/index.php/component/content/article/55-local-hopkins-top-news/23069-local-company-president-assaulted-by-employee > to see the original article.
Lt. Carter said that employers should be proactive to protect employees and to allay employee fears. Surveys have revealed that 20% of employees are fearful on a daily basis. Carter said that this fear results in reduced productivity costing employers millions of dollars each year. Employers also face liability issues with workplace violence.
Carter said that there are actions that employers can take to reduce workplace violence. The Madisonville Police Department is providing training for employers and supervisors to identify and prevent problems leading to workplace violence. Employers can contact MPD to schedule training.
For employers not served by the Madisonville Police Department, they can check with their local law enforcement agencies to see if the services are available in your area.
For those not served, Lt. Carter said that workplace violence is usually the result of unresolved issues that start on a much more beguine level and escalate:
1. Gossiping – Gossiping can destroy morale in a workplace. Persons caught up as the target of “gossiping circles” may react in a violent manner.
2. Teasing – Teasing or other innocent jokes. Some people do not like to be teased. They may have low self-esteem or other issues. Often the teaser or teasers, realizing this vulnerability increase the level of teasing. The person being teased may feel trapped and vulnerable and react with violence.
3. Violation of Personal Space – Some people like to intimidate others by violation of the other person’s personal space. The person violated may feel threatened and react in a violent manner.
4. Harassment – A person constantly harassed or pestered may suddenly have too much and snap. A violent reaction may occur.
Lt. Carter said that employers should be looking for such behavior and should adopt a “Zero Tolerance”. The Zero Tolerance should include Horseplay, and Harassment. Employers should train employees and make them aware of possible consequences of Gossiping, Teasing and Violation of Personal Space.
While there is no perfect solution to workplace violence, Lt. Carter believes that there are many tools that employers can use to keep their people safer and reduce the fear of workplace violence.
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