One Third Of Small Businesses Experience Workplace Violence

Four in 10 managers believe the problem is getting worse, and workers are anxious about their safety and security, according to a new HSB survey.

Workplace violence has occurred at one-third of small businesses, and many owners and managers worry the problem is getting worse, according to a new survey from HSB. The poll by Zogby Analytics found 34 percent of small and mid-size businesses that responded had experienced at least one serious employee threat or violent incident.

Workplace violence is increasing, according to 31 percent of the business representatives, while 41 percent believe the consequences are becoming more severe, in terms of lower employee morale, retention, lost productivity, and lost sales and profits.

Half of business managers think workplace violence is random and 40 percent expect the stress and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic will make violent incidents more likely in the future.

workplace violence
Workplace violence is a growing concern for small and mid-size businesses, according to HSB’s survey conducted by Zogby Analytics. (Graphic: Business Wire)

For the survey, workplace violence was defined as the threat of physical harm when there was the presence of a weapon, or the use of force that caused a serious physical injury to employees, executives, or guests.

An overwhelming majority of the business representatives—91 percent—said workplace violence could happen in any industry, and 31 percent were concerned it could happen at their own company.

Their employees also worry: One-third (32 percent) of the companies said employees expressed fears about workplace violence, were concerned about security, or reported they felt threatened (34 percent) by customers, co-workers, visitors, or the public during working hours.

What To Do About Employees Who Make Threats?

Half of the respondents said an employee of their company who made a threat at work would be terminated immediately. Others said offenders would be suspended, put on probation, reassigned, or referred to voluntary or mandatory counseling.

The most valuable services when responding to workplace violence were counseling for affected employees, guests and contractors, and site security assessments, they said.

In half the cases of workplace threats or violence, the companies said their business reputations were damaged, most often for three to six months. Three-quarters of the businesses that experienced incidents reported them to police.

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