Hartford, CT

Workplace Violence A Growing Concern for Small Businesses, Survey Finds

Connecticut by the Numbers

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Concern about workplace violence is increasing, in part due to COVID.Shutterstock image

Workplace violence has occurred at one-third of small businesses, a recent survey of owners and managers nationwide has found, with many expressing concern that the problem is getting worse. The survey found that 34 percent of the small and mid-size businesses responding had experienced at least one serious employee threat or violent incident.

Workplace violence is increasing, according to 31 percent of the business representatives, while 41 percent believe the consequences are becoming more severe, in terms of lower employee morale, retention, lost productivity, and lost sales and profits.

Owners, managers and executives of small to mid-size companies were polled for Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), part of Munich Re, and a multiline insurer of businesses and other employers. It was conducted by Zogby Analytics.

Half of the business managers think workplace violence is random and 40 percent expect the stress and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic will make violent incidents more likely in the future. Workplace violence was defined as the threat of physical harm when there was the presence of a weapon, or the use of force that caused a serious physical injury to employees, executives or guests.

An overwhelming majority of the business representatives, 91 percent, said workplace violence could happen in any industry and 31 percent were concerned it could happen at their own company. It is not only business leaders expressing concern, the survey found.

One-third (32 percent) of the companies said employees expressed fears about workplace violence, were concerned about security or reported they felt threatened (34 percent) by customers, co-workers, visitors, or the public during working hours. The most valuable services when responding to workplace violence were counseling for affected employees, guests and contractors, and site security assessments, they said.

Half of the business representatives said an employee of their company who made a threat at work would be terminated immediately. Others said offenders would be suspended, put on probation, reassigned, or referred to voluntary or mandatory counseling.

In half the cases of workplace threats or violence, the companies said their business reputations were damaged, most often for three to six months. Three-quarters of the businesses that experienced workplace violence reported the incidents to police.

In February, HSB launched a new workplace violence insurance coverage for small to mid-size businesses, providing counseling, crisis communications, lost business income and security services to help companies and their employees respond and recover after a violent event.

“With violence rising in today’s workplace, incidents can happen to any business,” said Stephanie Watkins, HSB senior vice president. “The economic loss can be severe, and many smaller businesses don’t have the resources to help employees cope. We designed our coverage to help small to mid-size businesses respond quickly and effectively when violence strikes.”

Zogby Analytics surveyed 405 business decision makers – including in Connecticut - online for HSB about their experiences and attitudes on workplace violence. They included administrators for technology services, manufacturers, professional, legal and financial offices, restaurants, retailers, construction, non-profits, and other organizations.

HSB insurance offerings include equipment breakdown, cyber risk, specialty liability and other coverages. Munich Re is one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, primary insurance and insurance-related risk solutions.

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