Assessing Workplace Violence Risk Factors
in the Hospitality Industry
In “What’s Growing in the Corporate Culture”, Mattman (2001) discussed the steps a company needs to take in order to set up an effective workplace violence prevention program. This process involves classifying various risk factors, reviewing the existing policies in place, and establishing a way to collect pertinent, unbiased data. In this paper, I will summarize Mattman’s key points and gear the discussion more directly towards issues especially relevant to the hospitality industry. Types of Workplace Violence
To begin with, Mattman (2001) distinguishes between three types of risk identification for workforce violence incidents. Type I incidents are those in which the perpetrator holds no legitimate relationship to the workplace or the victim in question (e.g., the robbery of a convenience store by someone who does not know the cashier). Type II incidents are perpetrated by individuals receiving a good or service from the workplace or victim (i.e., customers/patrons). Finally, Type III cases are employment-related incidents with the workplace; these can be direct or indirect. Direct cases are those with current or former coworkers or supervisors; indirect cases are those between an employee and a current or former spouse, lover, relative, or friend. Unlike many other industries, the hospitality industry has a very large proportion of its workforce making in-person communication and contact with its patrons. As such, this industry inherits a larger share of Type II cases than other professions. Similarly, the hospitality industry includes many jobs subject to larger risk from Type I incidents such as late-night food establishment and hotel lobby workers. This is of particular concern since roughly half of all workplace homicides are of the Type I variety. Review of Existing Policies and Company Culture
Any establishment of a successful workplace violence prevention program begins with a review of the existing policy manual. Are the policies reasonable and are employees aware of their details and implications? The primary focus should be on preventing violent attacks on personnel (and in the case of the hospitality industry, its patrons); however, some attention should also be paid to occupational hazards that increase the overall stress levels of employees. Some areas of particular concern are the safety of parking areas, cash handling and fire, panic and intrusion alarms. Identification procedures of employees and visitors should also be reviewed. This aspect is especially challenging in the hospitality industry as patrons often have free access to common areas.
Another area of concern is the company’s policy on prohibited possessions such as weapons and drugs. Is the policy clearly articulated and consistently enforced? Are random drug tests given and is the punishment for failure well understood by all? With the difficulty of screening patrons in hospitality establishments, it only exacerbates the problem to have a flimsy policy regarding drug usage and weapon possession for employees. Additionally, there should be a review of the in-house medical capabilities and ease of access to nearby healthcare facilities.
Next, the worksite assessment should include a review of the management climate in the organization. What is the overall management style and does it foster teamwork or competitiveness? What roles do the different departments have in the workplace violence prevention program? What is the approach to performing evaluations, awards, and promotions; does everyone feel they are treated equally?
Additionally, there should be an assessment of the degree of stress employees are exposed to. Are employees asked to cooperate or compete? This is especially important in the food service industry where orders travel through various groups and everyone needs to stay on the same page, but some may feel the need to compete (for tips, for...
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