Workplace violence is globally recognised as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behaviour that occurs at work.

In some organisations, workplace violence especially verbal abuse has now become the order of the day, as the majority of employees are not even aware that they are victims of workplace violence.

Most employees tend to overlook verbal abuse in the workplace because it is slowly becoming the norm. Instances where a superior scolds a colleague, going as far as using abusive language definitely falls in the lines of misconduct and gross misconduct when voices are raised, or physical abuse gets in the mix.

A large number of organisations have witnessed workplace violence. While it is the responsibility of HR to ensure that good conduct is upheld in the organisation, it is unfortunate that many incidents around workplace violence go unreported.

It is the responsibility of witnesses and victims of workplace violence to bring this to the notice of the HR department or senior management. In an unfortunate situation where the HR or senior management is the perpetrator of the offence, such an issue must be escalated through the appropriate channels.

Having misunderstandings and disagreements at work is very common, most people believe that it is based on this growth occurs in an organisation and from where creativity is born. Individuals learn to see things from the viewpoint of others and understand them better. It is through this that different ideas are put together which in some occasions leads to the ultimate idea. In other cases, some individuals cannot find a middle ground or cannot compromise. In this situation, as a colleague, superior, employer or employee, do not give in to the anger that may sometimes result from this issue, stop, take a deep breath. Process the issue and think it through, how it affects the organisation, then you can react in a nonviolent manner.

It is a common belief that workplace violence can only occur among employees of an organisation. This belief is untrue as even customers can be both victims and perpetrators of workplace violence. It is pertinent to report issues surrounding workplace violence irrespective of who is involved, this would help create healthier working environments.

A quote from Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and CEO of SHRM, “Companies and HR should and must do more to make employees feel safe at work,” and this cannot be overemphasised in building our dream jobs.

We are all responsible for our own actions. It is very easy to be a perpetrator of workplace violence, especially verbal abuse. Sometimes we get upset by things at work. This is unavoidable, however, we should stop and think before we act. We need to check ourselves and the manner in which we speak to our colleagues. Are you a victim of workplace violence? Did you address or report it? You should.



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