The Impact of Domestic Violence in the Workplace
This blog is by guest writer, Mr. John Savas, who has more than 25 years of human resource experience in both corporate and consulting roles, and has worked with a variety of industries in public and private companies, family-owned businesses, and non-profit organizations.
Workplace Violence and Domestic Violence are Related
People often wonder why we talk about domestic violence in the same breath as workplace violence. After all, one happens at home and the other is usually some ticked off former employee who goes back to the office to wreak havoc, right? While the former employee scenario is just one of many types of workplace violence, other perpetrators of workplace violence include disgruntled employees, criminal outsiders, and those who have a personal relationship with the victim. This last one is normally characterized as domestic violence that spills over into the workplace with women at a higher risk of being victims of this type of violence.
The Numbers Do Not Lie
Statistics tell us that one in four women is likely to be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. Consider the enormity of that statistic and then think about your own workplace. That means that virtually every business has women who have been, currently are, or will be victimized by a partner. In 2014, 7% of workplace homicides were a direct result of a personal relationship. It is so important for companies like yours to step up efforts as they relate to domestic violence. Aside from it being the right thing to do to protect your employees and provide them a safe and supportive environment in which to work, businesses are incurring significant costs as a direct result of domestic violence, above and beyond the effects of the actual violence that occurs at work.
Understanding the Health Issues of Workplace Violence
The cost of domestic violence for your business usually falls into one of two categories: health benefit costs and lost productivity. Let’s spend a moment talking about health benefit costs. Did you know that one in three women seen in an emergency room is there as a direct result of domestic violence? Health care costs for women of domestic violence are in excess of $2,000 more each year than those of other similarly situated women. And that estimate is based on the most extreme cases of physical and sexual assault. Less extreme examples such as mental, emotional, and verbal abuse also result in medical plan usage, but statistics are not readily available for these issues.
Lost Productivity from Absence and Abuse
As for lost productivity, some conservative estimates put absenteeism for victims just over eight days per year, but once again, this only accounts for the most extreme cases of physical and sexual assault. And what about non-absentee lost productivity? Victims of domestic violence are distracted at work due to physical, mental, and emotional abuse.
Domestic Violence Mitigation in the Workplace
Effective workplace violence policies can make a difference in the lives of the women who work in your organization in addition to creating a supportive workplace culture. Do your policies encourage open communication between employees and your organization? Do your employees feel that they can confide in you if they are experiencing threatening behavior at home without fear of retribution in the form of disciplinary action, lost wages, or possible termination?
When it’s all said and done, the costs to the company for domestic violence can be significant, whether it spills into the workplace or not. When was the last time you thoroughly reviewed your policies, outreach and support programs, and how you handle domestic violence in the workplace? We’re here to help.
Mr. John Savas has been exposed to virtually all areas within HR throughout his career and has been instrumental in the development and implementation of numerous workplace violence prevention and intervention programs, including domestic violence in the workplace. John speaks and trains frequently on topics such as performance management, leadership, harassment and discrimination, and workplace violence.