Workplace violence is a grim reality for many organisations in the UK . The current state of the economy coupled with strikes and immigration issues greatly increase the likelihood of incidents happening.
Keep reading as we discuss the worrying upward trend in workplace violence and how organisations can reduce the risk to their staff and business.
The rise in workplace violence
With over 688,000 reported incidents of violence in the workplace in England and Wales in the latest data, the Health & Safety Executive refer to the current level of workplace violence, as being ‘at a worrying level’, with 38% of these incidents having led to an injury. 
A report from the NHS also shows the significant impact workplace violence has on its employees and the effective solutions which can be put into place. Having reported 14.3% of NHS staff having experienced at least one incident of physical violence in the last 12 months, the NHS has stated that conflict management training is one of its top priorities this year to protect its workforce. 
The impact of workplace violence on businesses
From protective equipment to property damage repairs and increased security costs, the financial impact of workplace violence on businesses is significant.
Not only are there tangible costs but the reputational damage can bring intangible longer-term financial impacts as the organisation or sector becomes less desirable as a career, and the potential for legal liabilities to the business are also greatly increased.
With this in mind, it’s important for employers to take steps to prevent and respond to incidents of violence in the workplace. By implementing a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program, businesses can help create a safer and more secure work environment for employees.
The impact of workplace violence on employees
Workplace violence is any act of aggression or threat of physical harm that occurs in a workplace setting. This includes physical assaults, threats, harassment, intimidation, or other forms of abusive behaviour that affect the safety and wellbeing of employees or others present in the workplace.
Workplace violence can have a significant and far-reaching impact on employees, including increased absenteeism, emotional distress and long term mental health issues, and high staff turnover due to decreased job satisfaction.
1.5% of all healthcare workers are assaulted every year and 7.4% of police and other protective services suffer the same fate. But whilst these professions top the list, 0.8% of managers, directors and office workers are also assaulted, along with care, factory, retail and sales workers.
Training is key
Faced with workplace violence, employers’ first instincts can be to increase the physical security or place ‘barriers’ between employees and the customer.
Whilst this may prevent the likelihood of physical violence, reports suggest that this can have the opposite effect for other forms of workplace violence such as harassment and verbal abuse, due to the physical and psychological distance the barriers create.
For example, glass partitions or heavy security checks can create a sense of distrust amongst customers and employees, therefore increasing the chances of verbal abuse, threats and other forms of aggression, and significantly adding to the stress experienced in these workplaces.
Protecting your business and staff from workplace violence
At Cardinus, we believe it’s essential that employees are empowered and confident in their abilities to handle workplace violence should it arise, through effective training.
Conflict management training
Any job where workers come in contact with the public has the potential to experience conflict and violence in the workplace. Conflict management training can reduce or eliminate these issues and ensure a safer working environment.
To get the best results, this kind of training should be provided to all employees, from the first point of contact (e.g. receptionists) to the final point of contact. This way, each employee can play a part in managing conflicts and preventing further issues.
Lone worker safety training
Employees who work outside of the reach of qualified personnel or law enforcement need to be trained in a different way. Lone worker safety training explains how to manage conflict and how to get away from aggressive behaviour without escalating the situation. This skill allows workers to avoid a potential threat and reassess the situation, by reducing the immediate danger.
Workplace risk assessments
It’s vital that organisations carry out risk assessments for workplace violence and create policies and procedures that seek to mitigate the risks.
We provide security auditing services to supply businesses with comprehensive risk reports to help your organisation understand vulnerability and appropriate risk minimisation strategies.
In certain professions, employees may be required to restrain, escort, or move away aggressive or violent people. If this is part of their role, they must be taught how to do it safely and properly, according to the employer’s standards agreed in advance.
Before using physical intervention, employees must be trained in conflict management and resolution. This will help minimise any negative public perception of the organisation, reduce any legal risks for the employer, and make sure employees and customers are kept safe.
Reducing the impact of workplace violence starts with adequate training to protect your employees, customers, and your business.
We’re risk management experts with over 30 years’ experience protecting businesses with market-leading training solutions.
To find out how we can help your business to manage violence and other safety risks, please email [email protected] or call 0207 469 0200. – https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/violence/index.htm  – https://www.england.nhs.uk/supporting-our-nhs-people/health-and-wellbeing-programmes/violence-prevention-and-safety/