Thursday, October 4, 2007

Workplace Violence

Companies should be liable to a certain extent for violent acts that are committed during work by their own employees. Before employees get hired, they should have a background check. An employee may have a clean background and still commit a violent act. It is unpredictable. If the employee does have a history of violence the company is completely liable if this employee does commit a violent act. When a company hires a person with this type of background, they always should make sure the area where that person is working has security.

Companies cannot completely prevent workplace violence but they can take steps to reduce it. The first step they can take is making sure every employee has a background check before they are hired. Second, they can have security on site at all times 24/7. Third, the company can install security cameras on the work site. Lastly, if anyone in the company feels uncomfortable with someone they work with they should immediately contact human resources and human resources should complete an investigation.

I think only one percent of companies have a formal antiviolence policy due to liability reasons. Companies do not want to promise employees a safe and secure work environment. If a formal antiviolence policy was enforced, the company would be a hundred percent liable if a violent act would occur. Violence is unpredictable and a company has no control over it.

The installation of metal detectors to prevent workplace violence does infringe too much on individual privacy. I personally think a company can take prevention too far by using these measures. Employees will feel uncomfortable and insecure. They will feel that a violent act can occur each day with these measures. Employees want to work in an environment that they feel safe and by using such measures it will show them that the company fears a violent act may occur so why should the employee not feel the same. Also, the metal detectors will represent a past history of violence in the company. This will cause employees not to want to work for a company that experienced violence.

There are several factors that may lead to violent acts in the workplace. One factor is a stressful environment. Employees that are stressed due to work may take it out on other employees violently. Another factor is demanding managers. Occasionally managers may be demanding and the employee may be stubborn, this may lead to an argument which can lead to violence. Lastly, a factor that might lead to violent acts is a hostile environment. I feel these acts are committed by only a few “sick” individuals. Each individual is different. People will take out their frustrations in different ways. Some may quit or some may not communicate with other employees if they are upset. Every individual has his or her own view towards different aspects. If an individual is violent it does not mean everyone is violent.

I found this article on violence at work very interesting. It showed me that managers are not trained and have minimal skills of how to handle violence at the workplace. When an incident does occur at the workplace, the company is most likely to be held liable for the employee’s violent acts. The victim’s survivors will always file a lawsuit and will end up winning. In this article, there are two different case scenarios. The case that I found appealing is the one that talks about a man named Joe that the employees feared. It showed me that there are preventions that can be taken place to prevent violence in the workplace. In this case, a consultant was brought into the company and they found that Joe needed to work in a more repetitive environment and needed counseling. In addition, the employees had fear towards Joe due to a past experience of violence within the company. At the end, after counseling, employees felt more comfortable and secure in their workplace.

McClure, Lynne, Werther Jr, William B.. (1997). Violence at work: consultants and
managers walking the line. Journal of Workplace Learning, 9(6), 211-214.

1 comment:

mgt 505 - nicole said...

I think you are correct in saying that every individual has their own way to cope with stressful situations; placing a lot of importance on the need for strong Human Resource departments to train individuals to detect a deviation in attitude and such. Background checks are important; however people act in an unpredictable manner when faced with stressful situations that they cannot formulate a rational decision for (such as losing a job).

I agree to an extent that metal detectors infringe on personal rights but it seems to much of a generalization. Then again, my commenter brought up the idea that people get very creative (I am pretty sure it was an episode of Forensic Files where an office was poisoned by the communal coffee pot).

I like the idea of security cameras because, at my job, we do not have cameras outside the store so it is very easy (as it has happened) that cars have been vandalized; that thankfully being the worst occurance.

I'm not sure where to draw the line on company liability; I think if the right systems are put into place and enforced the liability is split between the ability of the individual to fight around the help they are presented with and the ability of the company to intervene so far in someone's personal affairs. It is a bit disconcerting that most managers are not well versed in workplace violence, which includes harassment in its more typical form.