While violence of any sort is a direct violation of human rights, workplace violence is a particularly pernicious sort because its effects can be incredibly sudden or completely hidden. It is strictly against any professional code and specific legislations along with societal support are required to stamp violence out of workplaces.
Workplace violence refers to all manner of actions, words, or unfounded influences brought about at the workplace to scare or harm working professionals. In modern times, this definition has come to include the virtual workplace as well, which may include a person’s home, a client’s site, or anywhere business is conducted. Workplace violence has been a part of certain professions for a long time now. Doctors and nurses have been the subject of threats and workplace violence for centuries. Numerous provisions to protect them from threats and harm are in place in most countries. Still, workplace violence for doctors and medical practitioners continues to be a social ill that cannot be shed off entirely. Sexual innuendo, sexual harassment, assault, and wrongful detention are extreme cases of violence. Even verbal abuse, expletives, excoriating comments, non-verbal hints, and gestures can count as workplace violence. The ultimate edge of such violence can, unfortunately, take the form of murder.
In India, 75% of doctors face violence in some form or the other during their professional lives. This has been linked directly to nearly 80% of medical professionals feeling stress over their work and nearly 56% of them losing sleep over their professional cares. This is a direct example of workplace violence in which professionals are abused by the patients and their relatives whom the professionals chose to serve.
Due to the prevalence and particularly intense form of trauma it can cause, workplace violence is a deterrent to individuals who wish to join some professions. Past this stage, there are other areas in which the effects of workplace violence show up too. The merest whiff of workplace abuse, threats, and even verbal abuse and intimidation can have a disruptive, drastic effect on workplace performance. Among doctors and nurses, attacks on the person by patients and their relatives, and even random people on the street is a very real threat. The violence they face is not restricted to small towns or large cities, serving urban or rural populaces, among young or older professionals, or those in any particular community or religious dominion. Socially and globally, a certain level of offense has come to be “part of the job”, causing these professionals to be wary, even standoffish.
There is no excuse for workplace violence. People discharging their duty to the best of their ability cannot be abused for disbursing some professional advice or expressing an opinion. That their popularity among their clientele may go up or down is a whole other question. But violence against working professionals is manifestly unethical and illegal.
Methods of countering workplace violence
Being vocal: Any and all manner of violence needs to be brought to light. The number of details documented and declared in the public forum bring visibility to the perpetrator and detract from their image. Perpetrators often play the victim. This distinction has to be clarified and every working professional should make their side of the case heard.
Societal support: Working professionals often known to suffer from workplace violence, such as doctors and nurses, should band together to ensure that they support one another. This can help form consistent responses and stances against abusive behavior. The cover of anonymity should be done away with.
Mental wellness: The challenges of keeping up a job with the usual pitfalls is hard enough. When violence is part and parcel of one’s job, they need extra support to keep up their professional authenticity and motivation. Support should be available for sufferers of violence and administrative bodies as well as private forums should be cognizant of this.
Disciplinary action against the abuse of professionals, societal support for the cause, and additional frameworks to support the sufferers can bring enduring success against workplace violence.
- Duan, X., Ni, X., Shi, L. et al. The impact of workplace violence on job satisfaction, job burnout, and turnover intention: the mediating role of social support. Health Qual Life Outcomes 17, 93 (2019)
- OSHA Fact Sheet – Workplace Violence | US Department of Labor | Occupational Safety and Health Administration | 2002
- Workplace Violence Against Doctors in India: A Traditional Review | US National Library of Medicine | National Institutes of Health | 2020