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Workplace Violence: Myths, Facts and The Experience of Nova Scotian Workers E. Kevin Kelloway, Ph.D. Senior Research Fellow Professor of Management and.

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Presentation on theme: "Workplace Violence: Myths, Facts and The Experience of Nova Scotian Workers E. Kevin Kelloway, Ph.D. Senior Research Fellow Professor of Management and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Workplace Violence: Myths, Facts and The Experience of Nova Scotian Workers E. Kevin Kelloway, Ph.D. Senior Research Fellow Professor of Management and Psychology

2 “Work, is by its very nature, about violence—to the spirit as well as to the body. It is about ulcers as well as accidents, about shouting matches as well as fistfights, about nervous breakdowns as well as kicking the dog around. It is, above all (or beneath all), about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the great many of us (Terkel, 1974, p. xi). Terkel, S. (1974). Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do. New York: Pantheon.

3 Going Postal - Postal Shootings in the U.S. Mid 1990s OCTRANSPO shootings in Canada - 1999 Columbine Massacre - 1999 September 11, 2001 Some Landmark Events

4 AGGRESSION: behavior that is enacted by an individual(s) within or outside an organization, intended to physically or psychologically harm a worker or workers, and occurs in a work- related context (Schat & Kelloway, 2005) VIOLENCE the attempted, threatened or actual conduct of a person that endangers the health or safety of an employee, including any threatening statement or threatening behaviour that gives an employee reasonable cause to believe that the employee is at risk of injury.(NS Department of Environment & Labor, 2006) All violence is aggression, but not all aggression is violence Some Definitions

5 Myths and Facts.

6 Taken from wave 1 of the Nova Scotia Workplace Stress Survey (Kelloway & Francis, 2006) Representative sample of 1400 Nova Scotians Asked How Many times they –had been hit, kicked or shoved –had an object thrown at them –had been threatened with physical assault –had been threatened with a weapon Data

7 Schat, Frone & Kelloway (2006). Representative sample of U.S. workers, 6% experience physical attacks (excluding threats) 41% experience aggression (threats, profanity etc) Myth #1 Workplace violence doesn’t happen

8 20.9% reported being a victim of violence (as defined in NS) 9% were hit, kicked or shoved 11.8% had objects thrown at them 12.6% were threatened with physical assault 2.7 % were threatened with a weapon The Nova Scotian Experience

9 Almost all physical violence in the workplace originates with clients or members of the public Coworker-coworker or Supervisor-coworker violence is extremely rare Cannot even be evaluated in many studies Schat, Frone & Kelloway (2006) workers are 4 times more likely to experience violence from members of the public than from supervisors or coworkers Myth #2 The Disgruntled Employee

10 The Nova Scotian Experience

11 Even when dealing with actively psychotic individuals, violence is a predictable phenomenon. Schat et al. (2006) = violence varies by occupation, gender, age, education There are known risk factors for violence – based on both occupational and individual characteristics Myth #3: Violence is Random/ Unpredictable

12 Dealing with the public Denying a service Making decisions that influence others’ lives Supervising/disciplining others Security functions/physical control Working nights, weekends, alone Dealing with items of value Working with alcohol Providing physical/emotional care Going into peoples’ homes LeBlanc & Kelloway (2002): Risk factors for occupational violence include:

13 Survey of Metro Transit Bus Operators 60% experienced physical violence from members of public –33.5% object thrown at them –13.5% hit kicked or shoved –50.6 threatened with assault –5.9% threatened with a weapon –1.2% attacked with a weapon The Nova Scotian Experience 1: Wright & Kelloway (2007)

14 The Nova Scotian Experience 2: Perrot & Kelloway (2005)

15 The Nova Scotian Experience 2: Perrot & Kelloway (2005)

16 Violence is a purposive activity Violence is committed by people because by doing so they can: (1) force others to comply; (2) restore justice when they believe they have been wronged; (3) achieve a desired image or reputation; and (4) entertain themselves with a potentially risky activity.” (Felson, 2005). Myth #4: Violence is committed by “crazy” people and psychopaths

17 Criminal activity Frustration/anger – denial of service, restriction of freedom etc. Marital/spousal violence – work as a social address Three main sources of workplace violence

18 Physical violence is almost always preceded by an escalation (profanity, threats, raised voices etc) Not all aggression escalates into violence, but violence is almost always preceded by aggression Myth #5: Violence is spontaneous, it “comes out of no where”

19 47% of violence victims (vs 14% of non-victims) had been the target of obscene gestures; 51% of victims had been treated with disrespect (vs 24% of non-victims) 54% of those who had been threatened had also been hit, kicked or shoved 40% of those who had been threatened had also had an object thrown at them The Nova Scotian Experience (Francis & Kelloway, 2006)

20 27% of respondents reported that there was some form of workplace violence program in their workplace 14% had used the program Programs can focus on primary, secondary, or tertiary intervention Myth #6:There is nothing we can do

21 Physical Security Remove self from situation De-escalation Conflict resolution/mediation Risk assessment Organizational Policies and Practices PRIMARY Intervention: Reduce/Eliminate

22 Self-defense training PPE Training in dealing with abusive/aggressive individuals (Understanding, Prediction, & Control) Social Support (from coworkers, from supervisors, from organization) Organizational tolerance/security climate? SECONDARY Intervention: Reduce the effects

23 Counseling EAPS Critical Incident Stress Interventions Workers’ Compensation TERTIARY INTERVENTION: Heal the wounded

24 THANK YOU !!


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