Can Your Corporate Culture Influence Workplace Violence?

by Apr 24, 2024

Workplace violence is a serious concern for organizations worldwide. While there are many reasons why it happens, one thing that doesn’t get enough attention is the company culture itself. How people act and treat each other at work can make violence more or less likely to happen.

In 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there was a worker fatality approximately every 96 minutes due to work-related injuries. This marked a 5.7 percent rise compared to the previous year. 

Also, Gallup discovered that worldwide, about 18% of employees reported facing psychological violence and harassment at work. This includes insults, threats, bullying, or intimidation.


California Workplace Violence Prevention

On September 30, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom approved Senate Bill (SB) No. 553 into law. This law mandates nearly every California employer to establish a detailed workplace violence prevention plan, outlining specific requirements to ensure safety.

The law also requires employers to:

  1. record violent workplace incidents or threats in a violent incident log;
  2. provide effective training to all employees; and
  3. maintain records related to the workplace violence prevention plan.

Every employee deserves a safe and secure workplace. California has taken a progressive approach and you can benefit from it.


So, how can your corporate culture influence workplace violence?

Corporate culture sets the tone for how employees interact with one another, how conflicts are resolved, and how grievances are addressed. 

We worked with an organization focused on empowering people with disabilities and workplace bullying had become a serious issue. The former CEO’s bullying behavior had spread throughout the organization, creating a negative culture.

The board replaced the CEO with someone committed to restoring the organization’s reputation. The new CEO listened to her managers when they asked for help and prioritized addressing the bullying problem through culture change. She called upon us, and together, we devised a five step plan:

  • Train the leaders, managers and supervisors in driving culture change
  • Create a culture committee made up of people from all levels of the organization
  • Create a social vision that would drive the new culture
  • Update the core values so that they resonated with the employees
  • Develop a strategic plan around the new values

The CEO knew that culture change couldn’t stop there, so with coaching from us in the background, she worked with her departments to develop action items around these new values. Ultimately, a strategic plan was created so that the organization would stay on track for culture change. 

Without action, this situation could easily escalate into workplace violence. You can find the full case study here.


Factors Contributing to Workplace Violence

Aside from workplace bullying and harassment, here are some of the common factors:

  • Stress and job dissatisfaction
  • Poor communication and conflict resolution among teams
  • Lack of policies and training

It’s essential for organizations to recognize the signs of a toxic culture and take proactive steps to address underlying issues before they escalate into violence. 

This may involve implementing training programs to promote conflict resolution skills, fostering a culture of open communication, and mutual respect.

Creating a positive corporate culture that prioritizes the well-being and safety of employees is not only ethically responsible but also makes good business sense.

PS: We’re hosting a webinar on Managing Incivility and Conflict in Political Discussions at Work on June 5th, 10am PST. Grab your spot here!

Many organizations ignore employee engagement because it feels elusive and expensive. Rather than getting caught up in the fear and doing nothing, download our eBook on employee engagement, and get started.


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

Your Culture Matters as Much as Your Legal Compliance

Legal compliance serves as the bedrock of any organization. While it lays the foundation, a positive workplace culture breathes life into your organization. A strong, supportive culture fosters employee engagement, boosts morale, and enhances productivity.  This...

How We Create Respectful Work Cultures

For the past 15 years, we have been dedicated to transforming toxic workplace cultures and fostering positive environments through executive coaching, corporate training, and large-scale culture change projects. We’ve serviced over 250 clients and their thousands of...

42% of employees would QUIT over political disagreements

Is it appropriate to restrict employees from expressing their political views at work? On the one hand, you want people to feel free to express themselves. But then, you don't want those water cooler chats to turn into full-blown political showdowns. According to a...

Why Retaining Top Talent is More Difficult Than Ever

Finding and keeping great employees can be tough for companies all over. With changes in employee expectations, advancements in technology, and shifts in the job market, it's a real challenge. In 2019, a whopping 42 million U.S. workers alone said "so long" to their...

Can Your Corporate Culture Influence Workplace Violence?

Workplace violence is a serious concern for organizations worldwide. While there are many reasons why it happens, one thing that doesn't get enough attention is the company culture itself. How people act and treat each other at work can make violence more or less...

How to Utilize Culture Surveys for Cultural Change

Surveys are a wonderful resource for measuring the success of culture change. Many clients approach us with the awareness of a cultural problem…but an inability to identify the cause. And that’s where we step in, often using survey scores as an identifier.  Let’s take...

Microaggressions Can Become Part of an Organization’s Culture. Here’s Why

We're talking a lot about making sure everyone feels included and respected in the workplace. But sometimes, it's not the big, obvious stuff that makes people feel excluded and disrespected - it's the little things. We have likely all experienced situations where...

5 Unfair and Discriminatory Hiring Practices That Go Unnoticed

Businesses that prioritize diversity in their workforce significantly increase the likelihood of fostering creative and innovative thinking among their employees by 150%. Also, companies with a lot of different ethnicities and races in their management team are 35%...

How the Lack of Training Affects your Organization

The workforce is the heart of any thriving company. However, without proper training, employees may find themselves ill-equipped to meet the demands of their roles effectively.  Millennials think learning and growing are important reasons for joining a new company....

Why it’s Getting Harder for Some Women to Report Harassment

The United Nations Women found that about 1 in every 3 women has been sexually harassed at work. 3 out of 4 of them never report it to a manager, HR or anyone else. Imagine a world where every woman is treated with the respect and dignity she deserves. Unfortunately,...