All organizations, regardless of number of employees, are vulnerable to workplace violence, which can occur in any type of economy. The potential impact of workplace violence can not only destroy employee morale and productivity, but also devastate lives and the company itself.
The University of Georgia released a study that found workplace violence costs the United States $70 billion annually, with $64.4 billion attributed to loss in workplace productivity.
How is workplace violence defined? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence is defined as violence or the threat of violence against workers that occurs at or outside the workplace, and it ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide – one of the leading causes of job-related deaths.
A turbulent economy can make matters worse, especially with the unemployment rate still at a very high level and pay cuts and layoffs dampening spirits. Employees are faced with a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety as they worry about job security, financial stability and bills.
Anger, frustration and emotional instability can build and possibly trigger violent behavior. Recently publicized incidents, such as the University of Alabama in Huntsville mass murder, continue to remind us of the horrifying reality of workplace violence. It can happen – anywhere.