Workplace violence is a common topic of academic essays and studies because it has a huge impact on the functioning of organizations in the modern labor environment. In general, society tries to prevent the cases of bullying, aggression, and violence in the workplace. Nevertheless, there are several reasons why these cases are still present in life of people. This paper provides options how to struggle with the issue.
Violence in the workplace as a major social issue
A close look at the data indicates that violence in the workplace is currently considered to be one of the major social issues in private and public companies in the U.S. Evidently, the managers from various organization, including the industry leaders, such as Amazon, recognize that the problem of violence continue to be the most significant issue during the process of change or adaption to the evolving of the market conditions. The government of the U.S. regularly tried to change the situation by providing qualitatively new laws, which protect the individuality of each employee. However, it is almost impossible to control every case of the workplace violence due to high influence of subjective interpretation of the workplace behavior. As a result, in the last year, every fourth representative of some company was harassed, threatened, or attacked in the workplace. Therefore, it is important to conduct a deep analysis of the existing situation in order to propose some possible solutions for managers and leaders of the companies.
It is important to mention that the individualistic or even egocentric type of social relations very often causes negative consequences such as conflict situations. The same situation is in business sphere, where the employees of one company or different companies have quarrels and misunderstandings between each other. They may appear on the basis of simple disagreements or during some discussion of projects or future plans. As the result, workplace conflicts can evolve into violence or even murdering. Thus, it is important for conflict manager to prevent potential conflicts and to think over the relations in collective. Evidently, conflict manager could not achieve the aim of productive interpersonal relations in organization without availability of special skills.
The data yielded by this study provides convincing evidence that the examined issue is even more significant in accordance with the fact that people, who faced violence, also need to find financial costs to solve their medical issues. Furthermore, the victims could experience the decline of productivity and in some cases the loss of possibilities to enjoy life (Hellriegel, 2011). For instance, one of the most famous cases related to the problem of the workplace violence happened in November 2009 in the U.S, in Orlando. In this case, a previously dismissed factory engineer returned to his former workplace and killed one person shooting the other six people (Smith, 2014). The analysis of this situation demonstrated that the employee suffered from light mental illness. At the same time, he was regularly angry in relations with his peers. He criticized the management and demonstrated his predominance in relations with leaders. As a result, it led to the awful tragedy. Unfortunately, it is not the single case of violent and senseless murdering at the workplace. The latest event with the airplane, which was destroyed by the pilot, shows that the cognitive dissonance of some single person could lead to the grief of thousands of people.
It is fair to suggest that case of workplace shooter could be regarded as a model for other potential cases of such tragic event. Obviously, it regularly happens that the employees have no personal protection from the other members of the working team. Therefore, the described situation could occur in any type of the business structure (Menkel-Meadow, 2010). Consequently, it is crucial to define the triggering factors or warning signs, which could be useful for manager or even common employee in order to understand that he faces potential murderer or violent individual.
The warning signs or the triggering factors of workplace aggression
The data yielded by this study provides convincing evidence that it is possible to observe at least seven warning signs, which could help to reveal the negative inner intention of the shooter. Moreover, these signs could demonstrate that the employee was able to conduct workplace violence. There seems to be no doubt that the first and most noticeable sign is when an individual regularly faces difficulties getting along with his peers. For instance, an individual could become unreasonable in demands to others. At the same time, he could regularly make inappropriate and offensive remarks about others. In such case, the employee usually feels uncomfortable with his position. The leader could also pay attention to the mood of the employee because the violent person would upset due to the opinion of other leaders, employees, or the management. The shooter from the examined case regularly showed inconvenience with the behavior of other people.
The second sign, which was significant in the context of the employee’s performance, demonstrates that some individual is able to conduct workplace violence when he has a real perspective of mental illness. Thus, an individual could suffer from clinical paranoia without the isolation from the society. Unfortunately, it is impossible to make the accurate diagnosis of the disease. The fact is that people with such disease think that other members of the social community including their friends, family, fellow employees, and the government participate in mystic and private communities. It means that these people are conspiracy theorists. Obviously, they could bring danger by making some unexpected actions at some unpredictable moment. The data of the investigation of the case shows that shooter probably had some mental illness, which caused his rage.
Leader could notice the third sign of the workplace violence when an individual does not control his behavior. For instance, the employee could become very stressed and nervous without some specific reason. Such person could argue that he is superior and everyone else would ever achieve his results. As a result, such people always force their opinion on others. Obviously, it could be impossible to make a constructive dialogue with such an individual.
The fourth sign of the violence at workplace is connected with power obsession. It regularly happens when a person participates in paramilitary groups, owns firearms, and subscribes to various law enforcement or military communities and social media groups. Needless to say that there could be a possibility that this individual is harmless. However, it is necessary to control his actions and his expressions. Unfortunately, in the examined case it was not clear that the shooter had weapon and was able to kill people.
The fifth sign of the workplace violence regularly occurs when an individual has some kind of victim attitude towards others (Mathis, 2010). It means that such person never takes responsibility for the behavior, faults, or actions. He always blames others in case of his personal mistake. At the same time he could have trouble with the law because he is confident that he could do anything to achieve his aims.
The sixth sign of the workplace violence is based on the manifestations of the constant anger of the employee. It is easy to detect anger and hate at the workplace, particularly in the long-term period. It is extremely hard to cope with non-aggressive but jealous or internally angry people. In addition, it is impossible to convince them that they have no reason for an everlasting madness.
Finally, unhealthy habits could also be an alarming sign of the workplace violence. For instance, sleep disorders, dramatic weight loss or gain, and numerous health-related problems could make an individual extremely nervous or even anti-social. For this reason, an individual could become addicted to drugs, alcohol or various detrimental substances or experiences.
How a leader can solve the issue
It is important for a leader to prevent possible occasions of the workplace violence. It is necessary to note that while there are various warning signs, there simply is no particular and universal formula that dictates who the perpetrator could be, where the violent event could take place, or whom the victims could turn out to be. It means that for every “typical” aggressor profile, there are outliers. Nevertheless, the strong leader could define the problem for his team before appearing. Thus, he regularly works with every person and could control the changes in opinions and mental positions.
Strategies that might be beneficial to workers being subjected to workplace violence
The experience demonstrates that there is no violence in the culture of leadership where the leaders are absolutely responsive to their employees and where their followers feel that the leaders participate in everyday working activities (Smith, 2014).
First, it is essential to eliminate or substitute the hazard (Hanson, 2011). Undoubtedly, the leader could not replace the employees in prisons just because he thinks that they are potentially dangerous. Nevertheless, in some cases, elimination of the individual hazard is possible. For example, transferring high-risk employees to other teams or job activities is one method of eliminating hazards of workplace violence.
Second, it is necessary to remember that the violence in the workplace could happen due to external factors. For instance, there could be a message of a bomb threat. For this reason, management and the leaders must develop bomb threat procedures before they receive the threat. For example, these procedures for responding to bomb threats could be included in the specific emergency action plan (Hanson, 2011). Apparently, by planning ahead, all employees would know what to do in the crisis. As a result, it could reduce the panic, which is the reason for further problems.
Finally, the leaders must encourage the employees to speak about their problems or their thoughts. Thus, some of them could be victims of the workplace violence. It is important to understand it and to prevent some new potential cases (Conrad, 2012). The atmosphere of a dialog is critical in the aspect of the qualitative leadership style. Additionally, leaders also need to create a particular culture of “zero tolerance” for various forms of intimidation. It could help people to feel secure.
Taking everything into account, it is possible to conclude that the rational behavior of the manager or leader of the organization could influence the possibility of the violence to occur at the workplace due to the possibility to prevent the negative consequences by accurate control of the warning signs. It is necessary to prevent the employees from personal conflicts and guarantee that the level of stress is not too big because it could cause violence even without some specific reason.
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