The Impact of Workplace Violence
‘Violence in the workplace’ is unfortunate consequence for many organisations and of serious concern to employees in many working environments throughout the UK.
Evidence from workplaces such as the NHS demonstrates the significant impact workplace violence can have and the effective solutions which can be put into place. The NHS turned to conflict management training as a core strategy to protect its employees.
‘Workplace Violence at Worrying Levels’
With over 800,000 reported incidents of violence in the workplace in England and Wales each year, the Health & Safety Executive refer to the current level of workplace violence, as being 'at a worrying level’.
‘Workplace Violence’ manifests itself as conflict, bullying, harassment, threatening behaviour, aggression or physical violence.
Businesses and organisations where workplace violence occurs will experience an increase in costs for security, additional expenses for protective equipment and higher costs in damage to property.
Workplace violence is estimated to cost business throughout the UK hundreds of millions of pounds every year. The reputational damage done to businesses can play a significant role in organisations ‘failing’.
Workplace Violence Impacts Employees
Workplace violence can have a substantial impact on employees leading to loss of productivity, increased employee absenteeism and high staff turnover due to stress & reduced loyalty.
The effects of ‘workplace violence’ can de-motivate even the most dedicated of workforces. A 2005 survey highlighted that 1 in every 22 NHS workers had experienced some level of violence in the workplace within the previous year.
60,385 assaults were reported on doctors, nurses and support staff, by patients or their relatives; these are the same people they are there to help and protect from further harm.
All front-line employees working within the NHS are required to undertake Conflict Resolution training. Our conflict resolution courses cover the NHS CFSMS syllabus. NHS CFSMS Compliance >>
Health & Safety Executive
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) definition of workplace violence is:
'Any incident, in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.'
The knee-jerk reaction of employers to escalating instances of workplace violence, can be to increase the physical security or place ‘barriers’ between employees and the customer. While this may reduce the immediate threat of ‘physical violence’, evidence demonstrates that it often leads to an increase in the other forms of workplace violence;
The physical and psychological distance these ‘barriers’ create, often generate a sense of distrust amongst customers and employees; the resulting increase in instances of verbal abuse, harassment, threatening behaviour and aggression, can add significantly to the stress experienced in these fractured workplaces.
Employers Legal Responsibility
Employers face the challenge of finding a solution which delivers suitable protection for employees from workplace violence, delivers a service to customers of the highest possible standards and is financially prudent or cost effective.
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 states:
'Employers have a legal duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practical, the health and safety and welfare at work of their employees.'
Training Delivers the Solution
Empowering employees through effective professional training, is the most proactive approach to reducing workplace violence.
Conflict Management & Resolution – Any working environment where employees have direct contact with members of the public or customers, has the potential to suffer from the negative impact of conflict and workplace violence. Effective conflict management training is designed to reduce the instances of workplace violence and resolve it when preventative measures alone are not effective.
Conflict management training is most effective when delivered to core employees. Conflict management techniques need to be employed throughout organisations for the best possible results; from the first point of contact (for example reception staff) to the final point of contact, each employee plays a vital role. Conflict Management & Resolution Courses >>
Personal Safety for Lone Workers - Where employees are working away from immediate assistance of suitably trained staff or the police, a different approach to training is required.
Personal Safety for Lone Workers Training, examines not only the core conflict management skills, but also demonstrates low-impact disengagement and break-away techniques. These help employees create space between themselves and an aggressor, for the purpose of escape and re-evaluation; made possible by the reduction of the immediate threat. Personal Safety for Lone Workers Course >>
Physical Intervention - Some job roles require employees to be able to physically restrain, escort and remove aggressive or violent persons. Where such actions are demanded of employees, they must be trained to carry them out professionally, safely and in a manner agreed in advance with the employer.
Physical intervention training relies on learners having previously attended training to gain the core knowledge of conflict management & resolution skills; which should always be exhausted prior to any physical intervention.
The use of professionally designed restraint and escorting techniques minimise the negative perception of organisations, reduce the liability of the employer and increase the safety of employees and customers.
Our professionally designed and tested low-impact physical intervention techniques do not rely on force or strength to be effective and thus reduce the risk to all involved; we do not use any out-dated ‘pain-compliance’ techniques. The emphasis of our training is always on taking proactive measures to avoid conflict escalating. Physical Intervention Course >>
All our courses are specifically designed to reflect the needs of the workforce and workplace of our clients.
Risk Assessment of the Workplace
Our Conflict Management Consultants help clients meet their statutory requirements as set out by the Health & Safety Executive via a risk assessment carried out in relation to their workplace.
Our approach is to look beyond the obvious and deliver innovative and effective solutions. The one thing all the experts agree on is that training is the foundation of any solution to reducing workplace violence.
The HSE provide a number of guidance documents relating to workplace violence, which include (pdf documents):
- Managing work-related violence in licensed and retail premises >>
- HSE Guidance on the Risks of Working Alone >>
- Violence at Work – A Guide for Employers >>
- A Safer Place to Work - Protecting NHS Staff from Violence and Aggression >>
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) recommends:
‘Train your employees so that they can spot the early signs of aggression and either avoid it or cope with it.
Make sure they fully understand any systems you have set up for their protection.
Provide employees with any information they might need to identify clients with a history of violence or to anticipate factors which might make violence more likely.’
Training employees protects them, protects customers and protects the business from the worst effects of workplace violence.
Download our ‘Resolving Workplace Violence through Conflict Management Training’ Leaflet >> (pdf document)
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Page Updated: 23rd March 2013