Violence and the threat of violence in the workplace is now a major problem across the public sector in the UK and Europe.
In the UK, the GMB reports that more than four in 10 education professionals had to deal with physical violence from a pupil during 2015 and the latest figures published by NHS Protect show that in 2015/16 there were 70,555 violent incidence involving health workers, compared to the 57,830 reported five years ago, a 22% increase.
The situation is exactly the same in Denmark, with public statistics for 2015 reporting that sickness absence in the public sector after many years of decline is again on the increase, citing absence of teaching staff as the main factor.
So far, no public sector organisation has been able to present clear figures providing any degree of insight into these high level reports of violence or the threat of violence. Individual incidents are dealt with by HR teams at best and the high level statistics are often collated via workplace surveys. There has been no centralised, consistent way of gathering relevant data to identify the distribution and accuracy of these allegations and measure how they ultimately impact the total cost of risk across an organisation.
Recognising this problem exists in both the private and public sector and listening to our clients’ concerns, InsuBiz enhanced its functionality to enable allegations of violence or harassment suffered by employees during the course of their duties to be registered in our solution.
In late 2015, as part of an overall prevention strategy, one Municipality began a pilot project with InsuBiz and began registering threats and/or acts of violence against their employees in our solution. Over the course of 2016, they were able to identify:-
- There were 958 acts of violence involving an employee, which left the employee feeling vulnerable.
- The 958 acts involved 497 employees. There are circa 6,000 full-time employees within this Municipality, so almost 10% were exposed to violence over the course of one year.
- 35 employees registered 5 or more incidents with the top five registering 79 cases of violence between them. The worst was one employee who had recorded 19 separate incidents involving violence.
- We were able to identify that the majority of the incidents arose in the education sector and were able to drill down further to see they involved young people from age 6 to 15, committing violence during the school day and that 80% of the reports involved not just threats, but actual physical violence.
The Municipality were horrified at these statistics and more so by the fact that 77% of the 958 cases received a ‘far from adequate’ reaction from the organisation when they were reported. Certainly no-one was monitoring how these individual incidents were escalating, or identifying systemic problems within specific schools. No wonder stress levels and absenteeism was so rife!
Using the data from InsuBiz, robust processes and safeguards have now been put in place, to support the vulnerable employees and schools on a more consistent basis and to use InsuBiz to measure their success.
InsuBiz are working closely with many Municipalities in Denmark and hope to begin work during 2017 with a number of UK schools and universities to continue to support zero tolerance of violence against staff in the workplace.