Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dealing with domestic violence in the workplace

With bad news about our faltering economy flooding our computer and TV screens everyday, it’s almost impossible to avoid thinking about our nation’s financial worries. What’s even harder is checking our personal financial stress at the door when we show up to work.

Whether you see it or not, it’s likely people in your workplace are experiencing some financial stress. Studies show that 71% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck, according to the American Payroll Association.

One of the most unfortunate effects of our lagging economy is an increase in domestic violence incidents across the country. Various states have reported spikes in the number of reported cases of domestic violence, and “they are merely the tip of the iceberg,” according to Julie Ferguson at HR Web Cafe.

Employers should be concerned because domestic violence directly impacts employee health, productivity, absenteeism and frequently enters the workplace, Ferguson says. Abusers may harass an employee on the job over the phone, at the worksite or cause injuries that affect an employee’s work.

From Human Resource Executive Online:
Many people think that domestic violence is what its name implies -- domestic -- and that it only happens at home. But, we can't expect someone who is experiencing domestic violence to leave the worry, uncertainty and fear of what may happen to them or to their children at home when they come to work.

And, we can't expect those employees to perform at their best when dealing silently with domestic violence, or for their co-workers to understand how to behave.

And that’s where training comes in.

As a corporate leader in raising awareness of domestic violence, Verizon Wireless recently shared their commitment to the issue and how they’ve created a judgement-free culture to support abused employees with Human Resource Executive Online.

After deciding to develop and offer specific training on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace, Verizon partnered with a top victim assistance organization to educate managers and increase awareness within the company.

How Verizon successfully implemented a domestic violence training program:

  • Outlined the company’s needs for a training program: accessible to all levels of employees, easily replicated in different locations and cost-effective.
  • Identified and trained human resource leaders to become certified trainers.
  • Incorporated informative, “powerful” videos in the program to illustrate how domestic violence carries over into the workplace.
  • Certified trainers led discussion sparked by issues brought up in the videos

Since implementing the new training program called SafeWork, more than 3,000 Verizon employees have participated.

“We emphasize that our team does not have to be the "expert" when it comes to domestic violence. Our job, and the goal of the training, is to give our employees the tools they need to recognize when someone may be experiencing domestic violence, to understand both the impact on the employee and the business, and to respond appropriately to the situation,” said Martha Delehanty, vice president of human resources for Verizon Wireless.

Backed by company policy and a code of conduct, domestic abuse employee training programs can be successful in recognizing and addressing such a serious issue in the workplace.

Training employees how to identify and handle domestic abuse in the workplace along with the comfort to approach managers with problems will help any business achieve a safe and healthy workplace.

Visit the Workplace section at the Family Violence Prevention Fund for more facts on domestic violence and examples of how other employers have created strategic responses to domestic violence in the workplace.

1 comment:

Kim Wells said...

Another great place for resources to assist employers is the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence at http://www.caepv.org.

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