The workplace often mimics trends and attitudes in the real world. People bring their different temperaments, talents and convictions into work with them.
When they conflict with another person’s, tempers could flare and if pushed, violence might result.
In 2009, there were an estimated 572,000 nonfatal violent crimes in the workplace, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reports that between the years of 1992 and 2012 there were over 14,000 workplace homicides. That’s an average of 700 workplace murders per year!
A 2012 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows violence was the cause of 17% of all U.S. work related deaths.
From these statistics, it’s safe to assume that businesses are not immune from the violence happening in our larger society.
While having a security guard from American Security Force onsite can often reduce bullying or workplace violence, a further step that businesses can take is addressing their culture. Part of that is taking on the long-standing attitude toward that witnesses have about reporting what they see.
In American culture, there is an unspoken rule going back to when we were children that you don’t report friends or co-workers to superiors if they are doing something wrong. Put plainly, you don’t “rat” on a friend.
This unspoken rule has allowed bullying and hidden workplace violence to go unpunished. Often times, business leaders will look the other way as long as nothing serious happens, excusing the behavior with platitudes such as, “Boys will be boys,” or, “That’s the way it’s always been here.”
Those attitudes only enable the wrongdoers, and breed complacency within the culture, giving the impression that nothing will change. The result is that good employees who have experienced bullying or violence leave. Those left behind are not the productive, caring employees that you truly want working for you. With this group, the opportunity for workplace violence increases.
Here’s an example video showing you how workplace violence can escalate:
When this is happening, a transformation in the corporate culture is needed. Your goal should be to have employees feel safe enough to report bad events to their superiors when they see them.
Changing corporate culture to minimize workplace violence
To achieve this transformation, a total evaluation of the culture is needed. Policies and practices need to be assessed. Those that support the goal of creating a safe, respective workplace should be kept or created. Those that don’t meet that goal need to be thrown out, or revamped.
A good rule thumb while going through this assessment is to remember that corporate culture that you’re trying to create comes first and should have primacy over policy. In other words, your policies must support the culture.
It is also a trial and error process. Managers might notice that day-to-day policies simply aren’t supporting the culture. If that is the case, senior management needs to be open to making policy changes that truly will transform the culture.
The U.S. Department of Labor has instituted a Workplace Violence Program that can be used as a guide to help your business identify strategies to transform your corporate culture. A safe, respective, workplace creates a workforce that is more loyal and productive. In the end, that means a more profitable business for you.
OSHA also has information to help employers to comply with the OSHA law at their website.
To learn more about keeping your workplace safe, visit our website at www.AmericanSecurityForce.com. You can also call us at 323-722-8585 to speak to one of our representatives.