Violence at the workplace : a study of trends in Durban.
Employees across a wide variety of organisational backgrounds face varying degrees of violent behaviours, at their equally varying places of work, by perpetrators ranging from their superiors, peers, junior staff and customers. The description of what can be defined as “violence” and what constitutes the boundaries of a “workplace” were established in this study, which allowed for the aim of this study to be addressed. The aim of this study was to gauge the extent of violence at the workplace through a study of trends in Durban, South Africa. In attempting to understand the extent of, reaction to, and propensity to commit violence at work, the research questions were answered, which also allowed for measures to be drafted to pre-empt violence at the workplace. A sample of 214 employees was drawn from commercial areas in Durban with 61.3% from the private sector and 38.7% from the public sector. 9.5% of respondents were from senior management, 20.6% from junior management and 69.9% from non-managerial positions. The mean age of respondents was 37 years, with 61.5% being male and 38.5% female. This quantitative study obtained primary data from a self-completed, paper based, questionnaire which was analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The prevalence and extent of violence at the workplace was confirmed through the findings with some of the salient features being that employees would not commit violence if they were not subjected to violence themselves. Violence in the public sector was more prevalent than in the private sector. A significant association was found between the employee’s tendency to blame the employer for the violence experienced where the higher the unfair treatment experienced, the more the employee will reduce their commitment to the employer. Practical and implementable recommendations were proposed to reduce the possibility of violence at the workplace. This study has made a contribution to the presently limited body of knowledge on violence at the workplace in Durban. The information presented in this study provides senior managers and leaders of organisations with facts, figures and evidence of the extent of violence at the workplace and propensity for employees to engage in violent behaviours.
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