What is Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is easily the most misunderstood concept in the contemporary organizational context. This is because the term is misleading and whenever one mentions workplace violence, we conjure images of rioting and destruction as happened recently in the Maruti plant in Manesar, India or the Foxconn facilities in China. However, without discounting these incidents as being the representative, it is to be noted that any form of intimidation and harassment that result in minor injuries or even those instances of attack that are verbal in nature should be included in the definition of workplace violence.

For instance, it is common for NHS (National Health Service) hospitals in the United Kingdom to record hundreds of incidents of violent behavior from aggrieved relatives of patients and the patients themselves. Further, in India, attacks against hospital staff including on duty doctors and nurses along with ward boys are increasing.

The point here is that workplace violence is an omnibus term that can encompass all these instances of violent behavior.

The strategies to deal with workplace violence include training the staff to respond calmly and defuse the situation to prevent it from getting out of hand. Apart from this, the patients and their relatives can be counseled to adopt a less threatening approach than the one that they are pursuing and they can be assuaged. Of course, if these approaches fail, the failsafe option is to provide more security at the workplace so that the situations are preempted and prevented. This is happening in the UK and in India where bouncers and security guards are increasingly being deployed in hospitals and nursing homes so that the on duty doctors and the nursing staff feel safe and secure. In the corporate world, stringent security, measures are being adopted that include the presence of trained security personnel who operate the reception and lobbies so that any untoward incident can be tackled immediately.

However, the strategies to deal with a Manesar or a Foxconn type of situation are yet to bear fruit since these incidents are characterized by preplanned and complete participation by all the workers who gang up on the hapless executives and managers. In these incidents, the only way out would be for the management to call in the police or ask the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) to provide security.

The point here is that there is no difference between these incidents and riots and hence, drastic measures are needed to prevent such incidents. Having said that, having a police presence on a permanent basis is not feasible and hence, there needs to be a comprehensive labor management strategy to tackle such incidents from not recurring.

Finally, workplace violence can also mean incidents of verbal abuse and harassment and intimidation where presence of security does not help at all. The solution to prevent such incidents would be to thoroughly vet the backgrounds of the employees and fire those at the first incident itself rather than giving the perpetrators another chance.

The point here is that workplace violence of any kind is unacceptable in a civilized work setting and hence stringent and disciplined measures ought to be taken to prevent and preempt such occurrences.

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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.