Workplace Violence Policies Are Essential
Studies show that most business owners do not think that workplace violence is an issue for them but Workplace Violence Policies Are Essential. The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence states that 1 in 3 women in the State of Vermont are victims of domestic violence. While many may consider this to be a “women’s issue”, the statistics show that 1 in 4 men in Vermont are also victims of domestic violence. This makes it likely that your employees, customers and/or colleagues are exposed to domestic violence and it is affecting your business on some level.
Workplace safety is a concern for every employer and has been for decades. Unions, OSHA, law enforcement and workers have claimed a right to earning a living without excessive hazards and threats. The new focus on domestic violence as an issue of workplace safety brings it to the forefront as an employer concern. While it has been known for some time that employers ignoring sexual harassment can cost the average company millions in low productivity, low morale and employee turnover and absenteeism, it is only now becoming clear that domestic violence has similar costs.
When you stop and realize that many of the news stories including school violence are more specifically domestic violence occurrences, it is easy to extrapolate that your business could be the site for a domestic situation that reels out of control.
Clearly, the time has come for companies to develop policies around how to handle domestic issues. First, you must understand that domestic violence is not always physical abuse. In fact, it is more likely to be controlling behavior with verbal abuse and psychological intimidation. Physical abuse occurs when other forms of coercion no longer work.
The purpose of a company policy is to establish early communication about the company’s resolve to protect all of its employees and give direction about what one should do if they are in an abusive situation or are aware of one that might affect the workplace. It tells the employees that the company will use its resources including EAP (Employee Assistance Plans), community agencies and Human Resource personnel to assist if needed.
The discussion of adopting a new policy on Workplace Violence also helps staff determine what must be done in various situations, much like a fire drill makes you think through the steps to safety when the stress and threat of a real fire is not imminent. The building of a workplace violence policy makes you walk through the various situations that might occur. What should the receptionist do if an enraged spouse with a gun comes through the door? What should HR do if they become aware that an employee is being harassed at work by a domestic partner? What does the company need to do to ensure the safety of an employee who has placed a restraining order on a domestic partner? How does a coworker respond to the admission of their cubicle mate that their partner is abusive?
These are all questions that are best addressed in advance. There are many resources available to help. I would recommend starting with www.workplacesrespond.org.
If you need further assistance in implementing new workplace policies, do not hesitate to contact me at 877-352-2121 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.