Stress and Violence in the workplace

Posted by Winnie Melda on December 10th, 2018


Stress and violence in the world are rapidly increasing not only in the society, but also in institutions such as schools, and workplaces. Cox, et al. (2000), states that stress and violence are in many cases becoming common and broadly accepted as a workplace phenomenon that adversely affects a large number of people around the globe. Pressure is increasingly mounting on personnel due to the aspect that the economy has become global and competitive hence intensifying the organization’s battle for growth, market shares, and survival. Stress in the workplace may lead to both adverse as well as positive results. Negative impacts of stress include a lower performance of workers and business productivity due to lack of employee motivation, and also reduced worker cooperation in the enterprise due to behavioral changes that are as a result of stress. The positive impact of stress is the fact that stress may lead to pulling together of efforts to respond and create a solution to a common challenge and threat to the organization. As this pressure rises at the workplace, it also results in staff violence in the workplace. Violence may also get attributed to the rise in levels of crime and society aggression in many forms that include physical assaults, robbery, abuse, sexual harassment, offensive behavior and insults. This kind of violence is in most cases directed on the front-line employees as well as organization’s service providers.

Factors contributing to employee stress in the workplace

The primary risk factor attributed to staff stress is economic globalization that pushes organizations towards growth, profits, and survival in the competitive market environment. This factor has lead to the adoption of different measures and strategies so as to cope with the competitive environment. These strategies and actions include long working hours for employees, restructuring and downsizing so as to reduce company expenditure, heavy workloads and increased work pace at the workplace (Hoel, et. al., 2001).

Another factor is in the service sector where there are the rising demand and pressure from customers, consumers, and clients for quality products and better services in minimal time framework. This pressure gets transferred to the employees in the workplace to deliver the required services and products.

Another factor that contributes to stress in the workplace is violence. In most cases the victim of workplace violence is the employee, and the perpetrators of the violence include customers and clients, bystanders as well as senior or junior colleagues in the workplace. The continual of violence impacts the physical and psychological well-being of the personnel hence resulting in stress (Martino, 2003).

The working environment may also be a factor that contributes to stress in the workplace. Some of the aspects of the working environment that may lead to stress include poor working conditions as well as frustrations in the workplace. The type of job may also be a cause of stress such as jobs that require frequent interactions with different kinds of people who use of offensive behavior to the employee or refuse to cooperate. Unclear work responsibilities in organizations result in high levels of role ambiguity and responsibility conflict, thus leading to bad work-related attitudes as well as stress in the workplace.

Factors contributing to violence in the workplace

Social and cultural factors are some of the major contributors to workplace aggression and violence. These factors include domestic challenges that flare up at the workplace, public attitudes and policies, economic conditions, tradition and culture, an influence of society on employee perceptions and societal desensitization to violence. Advancement in technology also contributes to workplace violence as in the present day; technologically advanced weapons are available (Paludi, et al., 2006).

The type of job also contributes to workplace violence, as employees in some jobs are at a higher risk of encountering violence more than others. For instance, violent deaths are more frequent in jobs relating to taxicab sector, retail and police agencies, than they get experienced in any other sector (Privitera, 2010). Fishermen and loggers are also at a great risk of occupational-related deaths.

The working environment is a major contributor to violence in the workplace. The aspects of the environment that result in workplace violence include work alone personnel who have a greater risk of physical abuse and sexual harassment. Another aspect is working with individuals in distress. For instance, general practitioners and nurses who are in contact with psychiatric patients or patients frustrated by illness or pain are at a high risk of encountering physical violence (Martino, 2003). Another aspect is working with employees who are under the influence of alcohol and substance abuse that affects their behavior. Working in an environment that involves contact with valuable items increases the risk of violence against an employee. Managerial style, organizational setting, permeability from external environment as well as workplace culture may also contribute to workplace violence.

Legal and ethical obligations of employers to mitigate stress and violence in the workplace

Concrete measures and strategies should get adopted by employers in the workplace to prevent and mitigate and manage stress and violence in organizations. One effective way that should get considered by all organizations is the adoption and implementation of legal and ethical obligations of personnel. All incidences of violence regardless of their severity should receive legal support, in which according to the quality of evidence the perpetrator should get prosecuted. Occupational safety laws get set so as to impose compliance for businesses and employers to maintain safe working environment; that promotes safety against any form of violence. It is the responsibility of the organization to protect the well-being and safety of personnel or risk economic losses such as high staff compensation payments, possible lawsuits and liability expenses and medical expenses (Bowie, et al., 2012). Practices that should get adopted include acceptance and adherence to company’s violence preventive practices, becoming aware and reporting violence and establishing follow procedures by organization violence prevention program.


Although stress in the workplace if properly handled can result in high performance and healthy workplace, the main objective of organizations should be the total elimination of stress in the business. Any form of violence in the workplace that is either directed towards staff or an employee encounters as a bystander, results in the adverse impact that affect productivity and performance in an organization. Stress in the workplace may result in violence and violence in the workplace may also lead to stress. Hence, the two should completely get avoided for a productive and healthy environment in the workplace. Setting proper legal and ethical obligations acts a strong preventive intervention against workplace stress and violence.


Bowie, V., Fisher, B. S., & Cooper, C. (Eds.). (2012) Workplace violence; Routledge

Cox, T., Griffith, A. & Rial-Gonzalez, E. (2000) Research on Work-related stress. Luxembourg: European Agency for Safety & Health at work.

Hoel, H., Sparks, K., & Cooper, C. L. (2001) The cost of violence/stress at work and the benefits of a violence/stress-free working environment: Geneva: International Labour Organization, 81.

Martino, V. (2003). The relationship between work stress and workplace violen-6; Workplace Violence in the health sector: Geneva, 1-27.

Paludi, M. A., Nydegger, R. V., & Paludi, C. A. (2006) Understanding workplace violence: a guide for managers and employees. Greenwood Publishing Group p. 47 - 48

Privitera, M. R. (2010). Workplace violence in mental & general healthcare settings Jones & Bartlett Publishers, p. 9

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in custom essay research paper if you need a similar paper you can place your order from online research paper writer.

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Winnie Melda

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Winnie Melda
Joined: December 7th, 2017
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