Domestic Violence at Work

Domestic Violence at Work

Domestic violence at work is prevalent in society.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 1 out of every 4 women and 1 out of every 10 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Considering that domestic abuse (also called intimate partner violence) is reliant upon the abuser constantly controlling their partner, an employee experiencing such abuse doesn’t leave the situation at home. In fact, a person’s job is often used as a tool of manipulation by an abuser. Domestic violence at work includes numerous phone calls, texts, unannounced visits, and worse. Strikingly, even after someone may end such a “relationship” and move residences, a workplace location typically remains a constant.

How does a company begin to approach domestic violence?

While a company is not expected to replace experts (law enforcement, social workers, etc.) in this situation, a company has the opportunity to refer an employee to the appropriate services while also taking steps to protect all employees in the workplace from negative effects of a co-worker’s domestic abuse (intimate partner violence) situation. To begin thinking about drafting policies and procedures, click here. Simultaneously, companies are hiring Executive Coaches to help advise on designing domestic violence policies and procedures and to lead the  implementation of the corporate cultural awareness of this issue.

Losses in Productivity Caused by Domestic Violence at Work

This issue cuts into the productivity and availability of employees in an abusive situation. The US Department of Labor reports that employees lose 8 million days of paid work per year. In turn, employers lose an estimated $1.8 billion dollars in productivity. Further, employees in such situations may not be available to travel for company purposes, a situation where everyone and the company itself are negatively affected. Naturally, high anxiety and physical injury also affect a worker’s productivity in a negative manner.

Security Issues Related to Domestic Violence at Work

The security issues in an abused employee’s life can easily become a safety issue for all staff in the workplace, companies are beginning to take notice and are taking action. Increasingly, corporate executives are working directly with their own legal departments to develop policies and programs, utilizing the latest information and legislation regarding domestic violence itself, medical leave for victims of domestic violence, nondiscrimination laws, and workplace restraining orders. 

Beth Siegert, of Siegert & Associates, a nationally-recognized expert on domestic violence, states, “Domestic violence is a very real issue for corporations. They just don’t always know it. It affects their employees deeply, and as a result, affects a company in countless ways. Some effects are silent, however, security breaches such as workplace stalking, unannounced visits to intimidate an employee, and, unfortunately, mass shootings, are escalations of the effects of domestic violence at the workplace. Companies need to take this situation very seriously.”

An Executive Coach can assist a company to develop a plan and put training into place for executives and to further assist human resources and legal departments to influence awareness, create policies on workplace safety, and establish best practices to direct employees to resources with confidentiality and empathy. Further, considering that domestic abuse occurs at all levels, an Executive Coach can work with employees needing the assistance to chart a new path out of an abusive situation.

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