Despite the fact that there are significant gaps in our knowledge of workplace violence, it is estimated that millions of employees are directly or indirectly affected by acts of violence annually (ASIS, 2005). Data on workplace violence is mostly scattered and incomplete making it very difficult to acquire accurate information (Merchant & Lundell, 2001). It is estimated that at least half of non-fatal workplace violence occurrences go unreported (workplacevision, 2008). Furthermore, there is no coordinated data collection system for such non-fatal occurrences (Merchant & Lundell, 2001). The confusion and the variation inherent within the statistical data is mostly due to variations in the accepted definition of workplace violence. Organizations must provide valuable resources for handling unique situation and have a system in place where assistance is provided through counseling and/or treatment so that the employee will remain a productive and valuable associate. HR Executives need to recognize and address potential (and existing) problems that can impair productivity and lead to performance problems.
Defining workplace violence has resulted in considerable discussion. There are those who have utilized a very restrictive definition, which is similar to the definition provided by Oxford English Dictionary (2003). The Oxford English Dictionary (2003) defines violence as “the exercise of physical force so as to inflict injury on, or cause damage to, persons or property”. In expounding on this restrictive definition, the U.S. Bureau of Justice in 2001 defined workplace violence as “rape, sexual assault, homicide, robbery, aggravated and simple assaults” which occur at the workplace (Matchulat, 2007). The U. S. Department of Labor also supported a restrictive definition in 2006 when it defined workplace violence as “violent acts directed towards a person at work or on duty” (Matchulat, 2007). They further defined workplace violence as falling into one of four situational contexts; criminal, customer/client, co-worker or domestic (Matchulat, 2007). Criminal violence refers to a situation where there is no relationship between the perpetrator the victim, while customer/client violence occurs when there is a relationship between the perpetrator and the business as a customer or client. And whereas co-worker violence occurs when the perpetrator is a past or present employee, domestic violence refers to those situations when the perpetrator has no relationship with the business, but instead has a relationship with the victim (Matchulat, 2007).
In one of my locations two weeks ago, I had a very scary situation. An associate was terminated on Monday, on Tuesday the former employee came in to the store and wanted to see the manager and two of his former coworkers. I asked him if everything was ok and if I could help him with