Workplace violence is a common incident reported across all sectors worldwide. The violence occurs in different forms, where the involved parties may be co-workers or employees and their supervisors or managers. Equally, the degree of workplace violence depends on the perpetrators as well as the victim and their level of vulnerability. Notably, although both males and females are likely to be victims of workplace violence, women are the most affected by the vice across all sectors. Workplace violence is associated with adverse psychological impacts that lead to reduced job satisfaction and lower productivity.
Individuals can experience the negative impacts of workplace violence directly or indirectly through firsthand involvement or witnessing the incidence. According to Havaei (2021), workplace violence refers to occurrences where persons are assaulted, abused, or threatened in work-related circumstances and can be either verbal or physical. Exposure to violence depends on an individual’s occupation and varying at-risk situations, such as working with the public, people in distress, an environment increasingly open to violence, and special vulnerability conditions. Nevertheless, workplace violence, regardless of its nature, causes depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and burnout in the victims.
Workplace violence is associated with anxiety disorders among the victims and those who witness such incidents. Most employees do not expect to face form abuse while executing their duties. They least expect their interaction with other workers can, at some point, lead to conflicts, negatively impacting their mental well-being. Therefore, when they meet violent co-workers or those who like bullying others, the encounter can instill a significant fear in them. They are likely to experience strong worries of being abused or assaulted again, and the latter interferes with their daily activities at work. According to Havaei (2021), approximately 26% of workplace violence victims get anxiety disorder. The condition hurts the victims’ productivity since they shift their attention to avoiding collaborating with employees whom they believe can abuse them. The victims may seek excuses for not reporting to work. Additionally, their work quality may decrease due to high chances of making errors. Therefore, organizations must have appropriate measures to prevent workplace violence.
Victims of workplace violence depict varying symptoms of depression, especially when they are abused several times. Exposure to physical or verbal violence or being threatened with the latter while at work is an incidence that can trigger depression among most individuals. Notably, perpetrators of workplace violence can be colleagues, clients, or both, especially in some sectors such as healthcare. According to Havaei (2021), about 36% of victims of workplace violence show some depressive symptoms. The data is supported by Tong et al. (2019) findings that indicate that workplace violence is positively associated with depression by 49.9%. The common symptoms of depression may include persistent low mood, decreased interest in engaging in activities that a person once enjoyed, poor concentration, and a feeling of worthlessness. The mentioned factors can hurt employees’ and organizations’ well-being.
Workplace violence increases the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Experiencing or witnessing terrifying events are major factors that trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. Workplace violence, the physical one, can be terrifying, especially when it occurs when least expected. Shi et al. (2017) indicate that the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among the victims of physical violence in the healthcare sector is approximately 28%. Jankovic et al. (2021) add that post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the risk factors for workplace violence and re-victimization due to increased irritability and aggressive behavior. Some symptoms of the psychological disorder are irritability, being easily startled, overwhelming guilt, and trouble concentrating. Therefore, the disorder can negatively impact individual and organizational productivity.
Workplace violence further increases the possibility of employees experiencing burnout. According to Kobayashi et al. (2020), burnout refers to a conceptualized syndrome caused by unsuccessfully managed work-related stress. The main factors that characterize burnout are exhaustion, increased mental distance from the work, and reduced efficacy. Kobayashi et al. (2020) add that there is a positive correlation between work-related stress and aggression and the development of burnout. Therefore, individuals with anxiety disorder and portraying depressive symptoms due to workplace violence are likely to report burnout at the rate of 10.9% (Kobayashi et al., 2020). Thus, preventing workplace violence can significantly reduce work-related mental health problems.
Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and burnout related to workplace violence reduce victims’ job satisfaction and productivity. Individuals with such mental health disorders are less likely to enjoy their work. Tong et al. (2019) indicate that physical and mental health problems associated with workplace violence hurt employees’ job satisfaction and organizational commitment and increase the turnover rate. Dissatisfied and uncommitted employees cannot execute their duties effectively and efficiently, decreasing their productivity. Therefore, it is recommended the organizations across all sectors design and implement stringent measures for preventing workplace violence to employees’ physical and mental well-being, job satisfaction, and enhanced productivity.
In conclusion, workplace violence is a significant issue across all industries that causes adverse psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and burnout, leading to reduced job satisfaction and lower productivity. Individuals with anxiety disorder and portraying various depressive symptoms can have trouble working in teams, concentrating on their jobs, and are likely not to report to work. Post-traumatic stress disorder can perpetuate work-related victimization, whereas burnout reduces employees’ efficacy.
Havaei, F. (2021). Does the type of exposure to workplace violence matter to nurses’ mental health? Healthcare, 9(1), 1-11. Web.
Jankovic, M., Sijtsema, J., Reitz, A., Masthoff, E., & Bogaerts, S. (2021). Workplace violence, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 168, 1-7. Web.
Kobayashi, Y., Oe, M., Ishida, T., Matsuoka, M., Chiba, H., & Uchimura, N. (2020). Workplace violence and its effects on burnout and secondary traumatic stress among mental healthcare nurses in japan. International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health, 17(8), 1-12. Web.
Shi, L., Wang, L., Jia, X., Li, Z., Mu, H., & Liu, X. et al. (2017). Prevalence and correlates of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder among Chinese healthcare workers exposed to physical violence: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 7(7), 1-11. Web.
Tong, C., Cui, C., Li, Y., & Wang, L. (2019). The effect of workplace violence on depressive symptoms and the mediating role of psychological capital in Chinese township general practitioners and nurses: A cross-sectional study. Psychiatry Investigation, 16(12), 896-903. Web.