Over the years, I have heard many stories about organizations and agencies that fall prey to persistent workplace aggression. Often times, workers discuss with me how the aggression at their job has gone on for months and in some cases, even years. My first reaction is always how can this be? However, I know the extreme complexities and difficulties that go along with having a culture of aggression.

The longer that persistent workplace aggression is allowed to continue, the more difficult it is to stop it or to provide any effective intervention. One reason for this is that aggressive behavior becomes normalized as well as integrates into an intrinsic part of everyday work life. It is so ingrained into the culture that workers and leadership struggle with recognizing that the aggressive behavior is indeed inappropriate for the workplace. Behaviors that others might deem to be aggressive often do not even phase those who are exposed to workplace violence on a regular basis. Workers essentially develop an immunity to how bad their workplace has deteriorated and they struggle with gauging what is and is not suitable in the workplace. This is partially related to the lack of intervention on the part of the organization.

For example, I visited with a worker who was talking about their place of employment and provided me with some details about a meeting. They talked about name calling and raised voices by some of the workers attending the meeting. I suggested that this behavior might not be appropriate or professional for a workplace. This person responded with a clear lack of apathy and stated that it was actually a pretty good meeting. To this worker, the aggression they experienced did not even phase them because it was part of their work culture. Mostly likely, this type of aggression was occurring regularly and was probably not the worst this person had seen. However, from an outside perspective, most of us would agree that this type of aggressive behavior is not acceptable in the workplace.

At this moment there is not federal or state legislation that holds organizations accountable for stopping persistent workplace aggression. However, it is in fact, the organization’s responsibility to ensure that their workers are safe. This includes managing persistent workplace aggression and making sure that workplace is free from any type of abuse. Organizations who fail to intervene and especially those that allow persistent workplace aggression to continue for years are culpable for creating a toxic work environment. There are so many strategies that organizations can do to prevent and stop persistent workplace aggression.  Many of these require little to no effort. But many fail to respond because of their unwillingness to admit they might have a problem and/or that they just do not know what to do. It just seems easier for organizations to sit back and let persistent workplace aggression become a part of the normal work day.

If you or the organization you work for is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there.



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