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Victims of Violence’s Battle in Workplace Setting

28/06/2022Daya Dimensi Indonesia

Victims of Violence’s Lonely Battle in Workplace Setting

Nothing good ever comes of violence

Martin Luther, German Author.

According to WHO, more than a million people lose their lives each year and many others suffer non-fatal injuries due to self-inflicted, personal, or collective violence. Overall, violence is one of the leading causes of death around the world for people aged 15 until 44 years old. Fortunately, more people nowadays are becoming more aware of violence and its impact on society. Just a while ago, the public were shocked by a workplace violence case that happened at Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia (KPI) Pusat. In September, a confession by the alleged victim, an employee called MS, went viral on social media. MS confessed that he had been bullied and sexually harrased by his co-workers since 2011. For approximately ten years, he was bullied, intimidated, insulted, forced to pay for his co- workers meals, and harrased sexually by his perpetrators. Due to this bullying and harassment, MS started to get sick as he was physically and mentally affected by the incident, to the point that he felt traumatized by it. Currently, his case is still investigated by the police and other authorities.

In reality, MS is not the only victim of workplace violence. Data from Sistem Informasi Online Perlindungan Perempuan dan Anak (SIMFONI PPA) in 2020 showed that there are 173 victims who reported cases of violence in the workplace.

Deputy for the Protection of Women’s Rights of Kementerian Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Perlindungan Anak (Kementerian PPPA), Ratna Susianawati, stated that there are still more unreported cases as victims might be afraid that they would be fired or asked to resign if they ever report any violence or harassment incidents, which would end up with them losing their source of income. Some victims might also have reported their incident to the authorities but received unsatisfying responses instead. Thus, they decide to stay quiet or confess through social media while hoping that their story would go viral. The recent trend of #metoo and #timesup movements show that employee activism and “whistle blowing” has accelerated for the past couple of years. With the existence of these movements, more employees feel empowered to speak up and report misconduct issues in their workplace.

So, what are the actions that could be classified as misconduct or violence in the workplace? Most federal agencies in the US define workplace violence as bullying, verbal harassment, and intimidation because bullying, threats of violence and harassment are signs that physical violence is a real possibility. At the same time, it also causes some emotional and psychological impacts. While ILO defines it as a range of unacceptable behaviors, practices or threats thereof, whether a single occurrence or repeated, that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm which occur in the course of, linked with or arising out of work. As you can see, the definition of workplace violence is somehow different but also similar at the same time. It is because the range of labels and terms used to describe workplace violence and harassment varies across different jurisdictions and across and within various workplaces and national cultures. Even workplace bullying, one of the actions that is considered as workplace violence, has multiple definitions or interpretations due to differing value systems, communication norms, hierarchical relationships, and the larger institutional context (Fox, 2012).

Although there are multiple ways to interpret or perceive workplace violence, everyone could agree on one thing: workplace violence is very harmful. Many of these harmful effects are disclosed by some empirical studies. The disclosed effects include increased levels of stress (Einarsen and Nielsen, 2015; Leymann, 1990), lower self-esteem (Tracy et al., 2006), stronger intentions to quit the job (Van Schalkwyk et al., 2011), higher possibility of staying away from work (Nielsen et al., 2016), and a decline in the overall well-being (Park and Ono, 2016). From these empirical studies, we could conclude that workplace violence may affect a person’s mental and physical health, well-being and dignity, and work situation. Aside from affecting the victim directly, workplace violence brings a range of potential adverse impacts in its wake, which include (1) higher staff turnover; (2) damaged reputations, ongoing legal issues, the creation of an unpleasant work environment, and damage to organizational cultures; and (3) reduced business profitability, increased insurance premiums and the use of and cost to the health system, also a range of other adverse impacts on the economy (Safe and healthy working environments free from violence and harassment, ILO, 2020).

It is crystal clear that workplace violence brings so much harm into an organization and could leave a very big impact. Looking at the empirical studies’ findings regarding the impact of workplace violence and real cases of it, e.g. the bullying and harassment that happened at KPI Pusat, organizations should put an end to workplace violence and try as hard as possible to eliminate it from their working environment. But, how do they do that?

Nowadays, there is a growing number of studies which reveal that unethical conduct in general, and workplace bullying in particular, can be reduced by fostering ethical leadership, which is a management style that illustrates normatively appropriate behavior through leaders’ actions, decisions and communication (Brian Picot Chair in Ethical Leadership, 2018; Brown and Mitchell, 2010; Mayer et al., 2010; Stouten et al., 2010; Brown, Treviño, and Harrison, 2005). This style of leadership is found as a suitable management style to tackle unethical conduct in organizations (Neubert et al., 2009). Thus, organizations need to set their HRD programs to focus on building leaders who can set high standards of ethics and integrity across the organization.

However, another research by Ahmad et al. (2020) found that workplace bullying restrained the positive impact of ethical leadership in promoting job-related affective well-being by weakening its positive outcome of higher employee well-being. This implies that raising employee well-being by remedying bullying in the work environment may require a multi-pronged organizational-wide approach (Hodgins et al., 2014) in addition to developing ethical leaders and prevention of bullying behaviors. Therefore, counseling services and support of co-workers may be needed to provide the alternative means for greater maintenance of employee well-being (Gumbus and Lyons, 2011; Park and Ono, 2016). To successfully enhance the support of co- workers, it is important for organizations to train their employees on what constitutes workplace violence, how to identify these incidents, and also the importance of both emotional and social support in organizations. Organizations should also create clear procedures that are needed for reporting incidents and maybe even establish an anonymous tip line to encourage incident reporting. These actions may help employees in coping with work related problems, recognizing the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, managing workplace violence, and improving their well-being. (OCY)

Read the last article by Daya Dimensi Indonesia here.

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