Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is an act of physical harassment, intimidation, or life-threatening behavior in a workplace setting. It is common in many organizations and may take forms such as abuse, physical assaults like bullying, and sometimes homicide. Workplace violence is a problem that needs proper research to identify who is involved in it, what causes it, and how it can be prevented. This paper focuses on such research elements in detail.

Statement of Problem

According to the National Safety Council, studies have indicated that the fourth most cause of death is assaulting from peer workers. In 2017, 458 people died from 18,400 workplace violence cases reported (Workplace Violence, n.d.). It implies that there is a problem in organizations that need to be addressed. The most common types of violence that workers are involved in are; personal conflicts, work-related violence, and domestic-related conflicts.

Since 2019, several notable workplace violence incidents have been reported (Strawser, 2020). One of the incidents happened in Illinois, the US, which involved an industrial warehouse employee killing five men by shooting them. It was reported that the murderer, Gray Martin, had been working at the plant for fifteen years, and after he was fired from his job, he committed the violence. Another incident that the website explains is a disgruntled employee who killed twelve people and left three severe sustaining injuries at the US’s Virginia Beach Building. DeWayne Craddock killed the twelve by shooting the building. It was reported that Craddock, who was a utility worker, died shortly after involving in a gunfight with the police. The motive of the incident was not discovered.

Another workplace violence incidence happened in Mississippi committed by a Walmart employee. The employee had been suspended from working at Walmart, and the outcome was committing violence, where he shot two managers who died instantly. Besides those examples, many more violent incidents have happened, some of which may not be reported. With such a trend, it is evident that violence can negatively impact both the organization and society because those who are killed have a role to play in the organization, family, and community. Therefore, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Analyzing the Problem

Analyzing these issues requires first to have an understanding of why workplace violence is happening. Based on the incidents that have been explained and others that may not have been reported, workplace violence may be caused by several factors. One of the possible causes of workplace violence is the lack of pre-employment screening. Usually, organizations employ employees whom they may not know. Some potential employees may have a crime-related background, which may affect their relationship with peers during work. Although most companies perform a psychological test in hiring, the test alone is not enough proof that the employees behave in that manner. Some of them may be good at pretending, making it hard for organizations to understand their behavior. If a violent employee is hired, they are likely to exercise their violence within the organization.


Secondly, workplace violence can also result from escalated personal or work-related stress. For instance, employees in high pressure or very demanding roles are prone to anxiety. Anxiety and stress has been discovered to be one of the major causes of any violence (Rasool et al., 2020). Stress can be caused by many factors, including being suspended from a job, being fired, stress from work pressure, and personal issues. When an employee is stressed, they are likely to perform an action that they may feel will relieve them. For instance, the Walmart employee who was suspended from his job may be a result of stress. Being suspended could have impacted his life negatively. Probably he had no other option, and he depended solely on that salary for basic needs. It is vital to look at it from a psychological perspective if such violence happens, not just making haste prejudices.

Another cause of workplace violence is disgruntlement. It may seem a normal thing to be angry, and later on, be relieved. However, people always have different levels of disgruntlement, some of which go to the extent of causing violence. It is evident from the incident of Craddock, who killed twelve employees at the Virginia Beach Building. Probably he had been involved in minor misunderstandings with fellow employees or the company’s management. This form of violence can also be between an organization and the customer. A customer may feel that the organization has wronged them by cheating on prices or quality. In such cases, violence occurs as a way of revenge.

Lastly, the lack of employee assistance programs is another major cause of violence. Employees go through a lot, and they need to be supported through advice, motivation, and inspiration. Some of them become violent because they feel no one is concerned about them or addressing their problems. For instance, when they feel stressed and have no one to talk to, they are likely to commit violence. Some stressed employees may even cause violence as they attempt to commit suicide, and the whole scandal spreads to other employees, for example, by using a bomb.

Addressing the Problem

To avoid workplace violence, organizations must address them through various prevention methods. The first method is to design and adopt a policy against any form of harassment (Dillon, 2012). The policy’s primary aim should be to warn employees and management against accelerating conflicts. Also, it should cover a procedure that they can follow in case of disputes. Thirdly, it should include the consequences of causing violence in the workplace. Lastly, it should be widely distributed, such that every employee can access it. With such a policy, employees will be aware of what the organization expects of them and behave accordingly.

Secondly, the problem can be addressed by organizing awareness and training sessions. Like explained earlier, the lack of employee assistance programs is one of the significant causes of violence. Organizing such programs to help them deal with their challenges can prevent workplace violence. The programs can educate them on solving minor conflicts amongst themselves, the best ways to approach an angry person, how to deal with personal and workplace stress, and many more topics. Knowledge is power, and with such knowledge, they will know how to avoid violence or defend themselves from a violent person, thus, preventing workplace violence.

Lastly, paying much attention to the relationship between employees and management is vital in preventing workplace violence—the quality of the relationship matters when it comes to relationships among employees or employees. (Shier et al., 2017). It may involve assessing whether employees are contented with the nature of work assigned and probably whether they are receiving motivation or not. Additionally, evaluating the quality of respect that these two parties engage in is crucial. Even though the management is on a higher rank than the employee, it should respect the employee with the same respect the employee is expected to give. In matters of respect, everyone is supposed to be appreciated no matter their status.


It is vital to have an understanding of workplace violence as the understanding can help prevent it. The first of the significant elements of workplace violence that need to be understood is the existence of a problem. Organizations need first to acknowledge that their employees have a problem that, if not addressed, can affect the company negatively. The problem is evident from violent incidents that have occurred so far, such as the Illinois shooting by Gray Martin that ended the life of fifteen employees. Also, the Virginia Beach Building scandal killed twelve people. With such incidents happening, it is clear that research has to dig deep into the root cause of the violence. Some of the significant causes of workplace violence are; lack of pre-employee screening, lack of employee training programs, stress, and disgruntlement. It is vital to address these issues by using methods such as; adopting a policy against workplace harassment, organizing awareness and training programs that can educate employees on various aspects of violence, and paying attention to the quality relationships among employees and management. The ultimate goal is to achieve minimal or no cases of workplace violence.

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Dillon, B. (2012). Workplace violence: Impact, causes, and prevention. Work, 42(1), 15-20.

Rasool, S., Wang, M., Zhang, Y., & Samma, M. (2020). Sustainable Work Performance: The Roles of Workplace Violence and Occupational Stress. International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health, 17(3), 912.

Shier, M., Nicholas, D., Graham, J., & Young, A. (2017). Preventing Workplace Violence in Human Services Workplaces: Organizational Dynamics to Support Positive Interpersonal Interactions Among Colleagues. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 42(1), 4-18.

Strawser, B. (2020). 9 significant workplace violence incidents from 2019 – Bryghtpath. Bryghtpath. Retrieved 24 February 2021, from

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