Just over one-third of small businesses have experienced workplace violence incidents according to a new survey released this week.
The Hartford Steam Boiler survey, conducted by Zogby Analytics, found 34% of small employers reported at least one serious employee threat or violent incident.
And 31% believe violence is getting worse, with 41% saying the consequences of are becoming more severe in terms of employee morale, retention, and lost productivity.
Half of those surveyed say workplace violence is random and 40% expect the stress and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic make future violent incidents more likely.
Workplace violence was defined as the threat of physical harm when there was the presence of a weapon, or the use of force that caused a serious physical injury to employees or guests.
An overwhelming majority of small business leaders—91%—said violent incidents could happen in any industry, with 31% concerned violence could occur at their own company.
About one-third (32%) of respondents also said their employees expressed fears about violence, were concerned about security, or felt threatened by customers, co-workers, visitors, or the public during working hours.
Half of those surveyed said an employee who made threats at work would be terminated immediately. Others said offenders would be suspended, put on probation, reassigned, or referred to voluntary or mandatory counseling.
Employers cited counseling for affected employees, guests and contractors, and site security assessments as valuable services.
In half the cases of workplace threats or violence, companies said their business reputations were damaged, most often for three to six months.
Three-quarters of the businesses that experienced workplace violence reported the incidents to police.