Today, workplace aggression and violence have become a source of growing concern and one of the main topics of the organizational behavior theory and practices of human resource management. According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor (2016), the rate of work-related homicides increased in 2015 by 2%. Workplace violence encompasses psychological or physically aggressive behaviors that cause harm to personnel or an organization as a whole and frequently result in serious and fatal injuries (Taylor & Kluemper, 2012; Dillon, 2013; De Puy et al., 2015). Therefore, organizations should implement workplace violence prevention programs in order to provide their personnel with a safe working environment.
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The primary question of a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) should be designed to clarify if the CEO of Company XYZ has a license to carry a concealed gun. Furthermore, while counseling Betty Smith, the Director of HR, and helping her analyze the situation, the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) should ascertain whether there are potential predictors of violent behavior within the organization as follows:
- Previous violence victimization (De Puy et al., 2015, p. 218);
- Incidents of verbal threats and harassment (Dillon, 2013);
- Employees’ addiction to aggression;
- Workplace incivility (Taylor & Kluemper, 2012, p. 316);
- Symptoms of psychological distress in employees (De Puy et al., 2015).
Also, the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) should ask questions to reveal if there is any source of violence in the company, including “criminal, customer or client, co-worker, and domestic op personal violence” (Dillon, 2013, p. 16). The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) should ask Betty Smith about organizational stressors, such as adverse work conditions, inadequate wages, inordinately bureaucratic styles of management, lack of autonomy, strict hierarchy, irrelevant supervision, and interpersonal conflicts. What is more, it is essential to clarify if other employees bring guns concealed.
The right to possess a firearm is one of the civil liberties of Americans; it is protected by the Second Amendment to the United States’ Constitution. Today, residents of the forty states can easily obtain a permit to conceal a gun. Due to the concealed carry permit and the Second Amendment, ordinary citizens frequently carry firearms for self-defense in public (Lindgren, 2014; McGinty, Wolfson, Sell, & Webster, 2016). Undoubtedly, people feel calmer and more confident, having a weapon. They know that they can protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property at any time. In addition, fearing rebuff, perpetrators try to avoid conflicts with armed citizens. However, everyone who intends to carry a gun concealed at work should take into consideration the organizational and cultural environment. If the CEO of Company XYZ brings his gun to work, the relationships between the senior managers and employees will not improve. Instead, this idea is associated with increased antagonism, organizational stressors, and disrupted interactions within the organization. In order to prevent the escalation of potential downsizing-related conflicts into armed violence, the CEO and HR Director of Company XYZ should re-evaluate their managerial practices and leadership style.
The decision on involving covert “armed” employees should be made in conformity with national regulations, specific state gun laws, and underlying principles of organizational culture. In case a company decides to allow its employees to carry concealed weapons while at work, those should be screened for all manifestations of aggression at the workplace and in the family and informal relationships. Also, HR managers should check records kept by licensed firearm dealers (Gabor, 2016). Background checks are obligatory procedures “designed to identify individuals prohibited by federal or state law from purchasing or possessing firearms” (Lindgren, 2014; McGinty et al., 2016, p. 4). Experts in psychology should examine such candidates to reveal if they are prone to aggression. In 2015, work-related shootings increased by 15% in comparison with the rates in 2014. What is more, this organizational decision will entail additional expenditures on gun training classes for covert “armed” employees. However, being purposefully trained, armed security guards ensure a higher security level.
Nevertheless, the practice of having an unarmed security guard sitting at the front desk cannot be identified as a relevant security measure. A guard should monitor the working environment safety and examine all persons entering the premises during working hours. Although security guards are physically trained and prepared to fend off troublemakers, they appear to be defenseless while countering an aggressive gunman. Therefore, concluding a contract with a protection agency, an organization should specify requirements for security guards’ armament.
Over the last 30 years, many state laws “have expanded the rights of gun owners” (Gabor, 2016, p. 4). For instance, Indiana, Vermont, and some other states prohibit employers from telling their workers that they are not allowed to have firearms in their cars. In Alaska and Vermont, the concealed carry of guns is allowed without a permit. While making a decision on the CEO’s right to keep a gun at work, the Director of HR should consider the law related to carrying a concealed weapon, Reasonable May Issue, and Shall-Issue adopted in each particular state. In addition to compliance with state and national regulations, in order to obtain a concealed carry permit, an individual should be mentally healthy and correspond to specific training requirements, such as courses developed by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Summing up, the expansion of laws that permit concealed gun carrying has not reduced mass shooting rates (Gabor, 2016, p. 75). The elimination of social and economic issues that contribute to increasing violence and tensions in society will be more efficient in ensuring safety. Thus, workplace violence prevention requires consolidated efforts of the government, public, and businesses.
De Puy, J., Romain-Glassey, N., Gut, M., Pascal, W., Mangin, P., & Danuser, B. (2015). Clinically assessed consequences of workplace physical violence. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 88, 213–224.
Dillon, B. L. (2013). Workplace violence: Impact, causes, and prevention. Work, 42(1), 15-20.
Gabor, T. (2016). Confronting gun violence in America. Lake Worth, FL: Springer.
Lindgren, J. (2014). Foreword: The past and future of guns. The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 104(4), 705-716.
McGinty, E. E., Wolfson, J. A., Sell, T. K., & Webster, D. W. (2016). Common sense or gun control? Political communication and news media framing of firearm sale background checks after Newtown. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 41(1), 3-40.
Taylor, S. G., & Kluemper, D. H. (2012). Linking perceptions of role stress and incivility to workplace aggression: The moderating role of personality. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17(3), 316-329.
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U.S. Department of Labor. (2016). National census of fatal occupational injuries in 2015. Web.