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Media Partners Research Suggests Many Organizations May Be Overlooking Workplace Violence Prevention Programs

July 31, 2019
By Media Partners
There's been great response to our new training program, Getting Real About Workplace Violence. But, with ongoing reports of active shooters and other incidents in workplaces nationwide, we wondered, "why isn't every one of our customers  asking about this program."  So, this month, we decided to ask. And, the results are in. Our July 2019 pulse survey found that organizations are divided when it comes to Workplace Violence (WPV) prevention programs.

Some Organizations Are Committed to Prevention Programs WPV-Survey_Sidebar 1_150x396

The survey found that just over half (52%) of the business, HR, and learning professionals who responded confirmed that their organizations are currently providing training aimed at workplace violence prevention and intervention.

Among that group, about eight in ten told Media Partners they’re covering the same core areas of training presented in our own programming: awareness, prevention, and response.

Benefits Are Extensive 

Those who reported they already provide, or will soon provide, WPV prevention training identified the benefits they believe are most valuable to the organization and its employees.

WPV-Survey Result_graph 2-Top 5

  • Three-quarters of respondents named this as a top benefit: teaching people about concerning behaviors, how to identify them, and how to report them
  • Two-thirds of respondents selected: provides a means of demonstrating organizational commitment to workplace safety.
  • Fifty-five percent appreciated that WPV Prevention training: helps establish a common understanding of what workplace violence is.  (There are many myths and misconceptions circulating around this topic.)
  • Four in Ten respondents confirmed that their organizations benefit because prevention programs: build employees’ confidence about their ability to survive an act of extreme workplace violence. 
  • Four in Ten also indicated that, in teaching people how to look out for one another, WPV prevention training: supports a culture of dignity and respect.

Survey participants referenced other advantages, too.

  • Clarifying expectations of managers (cited by 37%) links directly to the need for managers to better understand their responsibilities in this area. In fact, research consistently finds that too many managers don’t receive the training they need across a variety of functional areas. 
  • Satisfying compliance and/or legal requirements (cited by 32%) reflects an anticipation on the part of many that WPV prevention mandates and legislation will be coming soon (as already seen with the Cal/OSHA requirement for WPV Prevention programs in healthcare).     
  • Reducing employees’ fear and uncertainty (cited by 29%) acknowledges a benefit that speaks directly to improving the employee experience and enhancing the organizational environment overall.

Why Companies Aren’t Taking Action … Yet

While it’s great that 52% of organizations who participated in the survey are taking a proactive approach to understand and prevent workplace violence, what about the rest? As many as 48% of companies are without WPV prevention programs at present, although 18% said they planned to add one in the future, and fewer than one in 10 didn't know whether their organizations offered a program or not.

Delving into the no-program responses, Media Partners asked why those organizations had forgone WPV prevention efforts. To accommodate those whose lack of a prevention program might be influenced by multiple factors, survey participants were asked about the top three reasons behind their choices.

WPV-Survey Result_graph 1-Why Comp

Prevention Isn’t a Priority, But It Should Be

As the graph reflects, there was a tie for the number-one reason organizations elected not to offer a WPV prevention program. A third (32%) of respondents without programs said prevention simply wasn’t a priority for them. The same percentage said they didn’t have a program because they didn’t feel one was needed—their organizations hadn’t had any workplace violence issues in the past and they didn’t expect any in the future.

Certainly, WPV is one of those topics that none of us really likes to think about. It can be tempting to imagine that it just doesn’t apply to our organizations and embrace an it-can’t-happen-here kind of mindset. Unfortunately, given the world in which we live, that might not be the most prudent strategy.

A Media Partners’ infographic on WPV Prevention and Response Training reports statistics WPV-Survey Graphic_200x192from government and research organizations that underscore the startling need for all of us to understand that businesses nationwide really are at risk: 

  • There are 2 million reports of workplace violence in the U.S. each year
  • 1.8 million workdays are lost each year to workplace violence
  • 1 in 7 employees say they feel unsafe at work
Click to see the full infographic -->

Companies Lack Qualified Trainers

One in four survey participants said their organizations had no WPV prevention program because they lacked staff with the qualifications necessary to present such training.

Media Partners understands that concern. For our WPV Prevention program we teamed with top security industry veterans who've trained thousands of U.S. military personnel, employees in government agencies, and workforces in Fortune 1000 organizations. The expertise required to teach both managers and employees the skills needed for effective awareness, prevention, and response to workplace violence is engineered into the Getting Real About Workplace Violence program. And the training is hosted by a security industry subject matter expert. In effect, the program puts a qualified training professional into every organization that implements Getting Real About Workplace Violence.

Insufficient Budget Can Be a Costly Excuse

Insufficient budget—a perennial issue for many business and training initiatives—was among the reasons cited by organizations without WPV prevention programs. Given the widespread and all-too-frequent occurrences of workplace violence in the U.S., it is important for businesses to seriously consider the full scope of potential costs involved before making funding decisions.

Economic impacts associated with incidents of workplace violence affect both organizations and individuals. The U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimate the cost to employers at $121 billion per year. For individuals, lost work days, lost or reduced income, healthcare expenses, physical suffering, and the emotional toll associated with workplace violence exact both financial and non-financial costs

While business leaders have to operate within budgetary constraints, an Insurance Journal article sums up the consensus of many that prevention costs far less than the alternative: “When you consider all the ways a violent incident can impact the bottom line, prevention programs just make good sense.”

Building a Culture of Dignity and Respect

PQ_WPVSurveyOrganizations that care about employees’ safety and peace of mind know that a WPV Prevention program can be an important building block for a culture of dignity and respect. That kind of environment grows when employees receive the training they need to feel informed, trusted, and empowered to meet challenging situations effectively. And respect is embodied in the look-out-for-each-other attitude that colleagues embrace when unified by their commitment to safe, secure workplaces.

Media Partners’ pulse survey on prevention programs reveals workplace violence to be an issue that has organizations divided in their current strategies. But the story underlying the data is clear: overlooking the fact that workplace violence happens often and touches the lives of many means ignoring the millions of U.S workers who’ve experienced it. Acknowledging the reality of workplace violence and responding decisively are strong choices of informed and caring organizations.

When your company is ready to explore the benefits of a WPV prevention program, Getting Real About Workplace Violence offers expert-led, top-quality training to educate and empower your managers and employees. The program meets ASIS and SHRM standards for best practices in addressing workplace violence prevention and response. Preview it free of charge today, and make your commitment to a safe and respectful workplace.