08 July 2005
Dramatic Increase In Violence and Assaults On Service Employees
Research founded by City & Guilds has shown a dramatic increase in violence and assaults on customer-facing staff by angry and frustrated Britons who struggle to cope with the pressures of everyday life.
The findings showed that physical and verbal attacks has soared in the last two years, where workers in hospitality and security, ticket inspectors, paramedics, nurses and other customer-facing staff have suffered the most abuse. The report, which supports the demand for conflict management training as part of a long term solution to workplace conflict, has revealed that 37% of Britons have been verbally abused whilst at work. At least 16% of Britons admitted being threatened and a further 7% have been physically abused by a member of the public.
City & Guilds has warned that time pressures, unmet expectations and poor customer service are now taking their toll on the British. “As a nation, we are becoming increasingly aggressive, more impatient and less aware of the effect of our behaviour on others. Ultimately, no matter how busy or rushed life is, it simply isn’t capable to shout, swear or become aggressive to someone who is just doing their job,” commented Rob Roseveare, City & Guilds’ conflict management specialist.
It is believed that young adults who fall in the 25-34 age group are the most likely perpetrators of misdirected aggression as 33% have confessed to losing their temper with a call centre worker, a shop worker or a bus driver-compared to 25% of people over the age of 55. These erratic and violent outbursts are often blamed on the hectic pace of modern life where 77% of people feel under pressure, claiming that there simply are not enough hours in a day.
Disturbingly, 14% don’t regret their actions or dwell on the consequences afterwards, claiming that the customer-facing workers ‘deserved it.’ The escalating violence has prompted City & Guilds to join forces with Mayboo, the UK leader in Conflict Management and is urging organisations to develop long-term strategies to protect their staff against workplace conflict.
Roseveare added, “The results of this research demonstrate how abuse in the workplace has become a significant problem. Almost half of those questioned admit to being abusive call centre staff at one time or other. The rising number of assaults has sparked concern amongst employers who are now increasingly adopting a zero tolerance stance to abuse towards their staff.”
He also stressed that it was imperative that people feel safe at work and are empowered with the right skills to be able to carry out their jobs to their best ability. Conflict management has proven to be a vital life skill in many sectors and employers are now benefiting from this in the hope that it will contribute to their overall strategy to address the issue of violence in workplace.