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Workplace Violence Literature Review

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Workplace Violence Literature Review

Jennifer Watkins

LL 595: Capstone - Leadership & the Future

Dr. Lesley Page

November 16, 2014

Workplace Violence[a] Prevention

Workplace violence, described by Chenier as physical intimidation or violence against another in the workplace, may involve punching, pinching, scratching, spitting, homicide, rape, or slapping (as cited in Hunt, Hughey & Burke, 2012, p.44). Violence may cause physical or psychological harm as well as damage to property belonging to an organization. In addition, conditions of stress may lead to violence. This situation is exacerbated by downsizing, problems in the family, and reductions in pay, lack of job security, and drug abuse, all having a relationship with violence at the workplace. Moreover, Hoobler and Swanberg argue that authoritative management commonly permeates workplaces, contributing to negative work environments that lead to stress and violence (as cited in Hunt, Hughey & Burke, 2012, p.45). [b]

Purpose and Significance of the Study[c]

     The  purpose  of  this  literature  review  is  to  increase  awareness  of  workplace  violence.  This study will assess the effectiveness of workplace  violence  prevention  programs  and  develop  a  model  in  identifying  potential  workplace  violence.  Due to the increase of workplace violence incidents; it has become critical to study the after effects.  By assessing the prevention programs we can identify gaps  in the workplace preventions  programs  and  provide  recommendations  and  best  practices  for  this  subject  matter.  This study will contribute to all employees regardless of their level in the federal government.  Employees  will  be  able  to  utilize  the  model  in  their  workplace  to  identify  potential  indicators of workplace violence. Federal employees will benefit from the findings in this  study  to  assist  them  in  their  work  environment  and  to  successfully  manage  their workplace.


There are over 1.6 million deaths that can be attributed to violence globally, and the figure is even higher when violent incidents that are non-fatal are included (Cashmore et al. 2012). Violence is often regarded as something occurring in the community or home. However, workplace violence is common even though many incidents go unreported (Cashmore et al., 2012). Consequences of violence in the workplace range from psychosocial issues to problems with physical health. Problems with mental health include stress, anxiety, helplessness, and even thoughts of suicide in certain situations.

In a 2007-2010 study in New South Wales in Justice Health, a health institution providing services to individuals in the criminal justice system, for example, most of the respondents who had experienced violence in the workplace went through mental duress, but only 6 percent of the victims sought professional help from medical health practitioners (Cashmore et al., 2012). In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data between 1992 and 2009 in 43 U.S. states indicates that workplace violence and unemployment are positively related (Shoss & Penny, 2012).

Consequences and prevalence of workplace violence

De Puy et al. (2014) define workplace violence as offenses perpetrated by one or more individuals against the victim in the workplace, and are classified as internal violence when occurring among work colleagues and external when perpetrated by an outsider or outsiders. External workplace violence is more common than that which occurs internally. In a Swiss study, 21 percent of interviews indicated they had experienced violence in the hands of a customer (Mueller and Tschan; cited in De Puy et al., 2014, p.2). According to De Puy et al. (2014), most victims of workplace violence are frontline staff, and the issue is increasingly becoming a security and health challenge.

In follow up assessments of eighty six victims of workplace violence between 2007 and 2010, De Puy et al. (2014) noted that workplace violence has long term effects on employment and health, and the extent of severity was dependent upon initial psychological trauma, especially severe among women than men. Notably, the 1995-2009 European Working Conditions survey provides evidence that workplace violence is most prevalent in social and health work sectors at 15 percent, and least prevalent in the education sector at 8 percent. In the public administration sector, the survey indicated an 11 percent prevalence rate (De Puy et al., 2014).

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