Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
January 24, 2024
According to a new survey by Traliant, employees often choose to keep their workplace violence concerns private. The unspoken nature of these concerns can mislead employers, giving them a distorted view of the risks facing their workforce and organization – from mental health to productivity and retention.
In the first of a three-part blog series, we explore the effects of workplace violence threats on both sides of the employment equation. As workplace violence incidents rise, companies face increased pressure from state legislatures, OSHA and courts to take proactive measures to provide a secure workplace.
To uncover how employees experience workplace violence threats, Traliant recently surveyed more than 1,000 US workers at companies with more than 100 employees. What we learned about employee perceptions and anxieties can help employers adopt a more informed strategy to address worker concerns.
What survey results reveal
Survey results revealed that almost 1 in 4 have witnessed workplace violence happening to another employee in the last five years. While the majority (70%) of surveyed workers had received training on workplace violence, nearly a third of respondents have not been training – a big gap employers need to close.
“There is much room for improvement in how employers approach workplace violence prevention,” said Michael Johnson, Chief Strategy Officer at Traliant. “Especially as instances of violence in the workplace grow, preventing workplace violence is the responsibility of all organizations, regardless of the industry or work environment.”
Johnson adds, “By prioritizing workplace violence prevention training and taking specific actions to better address the realities of today’s employees, employers can better protect their business and secure a strong position in the workplace of tomorrow.”
A majority of survey respondents (76%) say their employer has a workplace violence plan, but far less (60%) were confident in their employer’s ability to act on the plan in the event of an incident.
California takes the lead in workplace violence prevention
Nearly two million U.S. workers experience workplace violence annually according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In response, states have begun adopting measures that require employers to proactively take steps to prevent workplace violent threats or potentially be held liable for damages in certain situations.
In 2023 California passed a first of its kind workplace violence law in the US that requires employers to address the following by July 1, 2024:
- Implement a workplace violence prevention plan
- Keep a log of violent incidents in the workplace
- Provide annual workplace violence prevention training to employees
While the new California law represents a ground-breaking step in enhancing workplace safety, it takes time for employers to develop a prevention plan according to the state’s guidelines and implement proper training. Starting that process now is key.
“To meet the deadline, California employees need to act now as a compliant plan requires working with different stakeholders, performing a workplace violence hazard assessment, and establishing procedures for violent incident response and investigation as well as for employee compliance,” said Johnson.
Awareness and preparation are key
While California is the first state to enact a workplace violence prevention law, workplace violence can strike anywhere, and no one is immune. Frequent news headlines of workplace violence may explain why an overwhelming majority (90%) of surveyed employees believe other states should adopt similar legislation to California.
It’s recommended that all employers proactively create and communicate plans to prevent workplace violence and provide ongoing training Taking these steps can help prevent the detrimental physical and psychological effects of real or imagined violence against a workforce that often result in higher absenteeism and turnover.
“An effective program should make employees aware of workplace violence prevention as an ongoing initiative, rather than a once-a-year training event,” said Elissa Rossi, Vice President of Compliance Services at Traliant. “By incorporating workplace violence prevention into an overall safety and health or compliance program, employers can show their commitment to employees’ wellbeing and the creation of a fair, safe and compliance workplace.”
For more on how employees are experiencing threats of workplace violence, read Traliant’s full report “Fear Factors: A 2024 Employee Survey Report on Workplace Violence, Harassment and Mental Health.”
In Part 2 of this blog series, we examine the impact of workplace harassment on employees.