48% of HR Professionals Have Seen or Witnessed Violence in the Workplace

According to research recently conducted by the world’s largest association of HR professionals, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), just under half (48%) of HR professionals say they have either seen or witnessed violence in the workplace.  

Employment Screening Resources reported on its website that the survey was conducted by SHRM in February of 2019 with 1,416 of its members that hail from more than 165 countries from around the world.  The latest figures show a dramatic rise since the last study that the organization conducted in 2012. In the previous survey, only 36% of those surveyed indicated that they had experienced violence.  SHRM’s definition of violence in the workplace includes harassment, intimidation, threats, physical assault, shootings or homicide.

No one wants to arrive at work and be either a witness to or directly involved in any incidence of violence. However, most believe that they would know what to do if such a situation arose.  The SHRM survey revealed that more than 80% of HR professionals strongly agreed that they would know how to respond when either witnessing or being involved in an incident of workplace violence.  They were joined by 71% of all employees participating in the survey who said they would know what to do about either witnessing or being involved in an incident of workplace violence.

A violent incident in at a company in Aurora, Illinois in February of this year ended with five people being shot and killed. Since that tragic event, the ability to deal with the potential of violence in the workplace has become the focus of many HR professionals.

SHRM president, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. suggested in his interview with ESR blog editor, Thomas Ahern, that training employees to be ready is essential to deal with the problem.  

“Preparing and providing employees with hands-on training helps empower them to react and take action in the event of a worst-case scenario,” Taylor said.

To assist HR professionals and company supervisors in facilitating this training, SHRM is offering an online toolkit for its membership.