The Violence Volcano: Reducing the Threat of Workplace Violence

By Mujtaba, Lisa M. | Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, July 2010 | Go to article overview

The Violence Volcano: Reducing the Threat of Workplace Violence


Mujtaba, Lisa M., Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship


The Violence Volcano: Reducing the Threat of Workplace Violence David D. Van Fleet and Ella W. Van Fleet Information Age Publishing, 2010 266 pages, Hardcover, $85.95

Violence can affect anyone at anytime, even in the workplace. According to Van Fleet and Van Fleet (2010, p. 3), "Violence in the workplace increased rapidly in the last quarter of the century." Their book, The Violence Volcano Reducing the Threat of Workplace Violence, discusses specifics of how to spot and take measures to prevent workplace violence.

Part one of Van Fleet and Van Fleet's book goes into detail on just how much violence has increased in the United States by giving numerous examples of violent acts committed in recent years. It also discusses just how costly these incidents can be for individuals, organizations and communities. The cost involved in workplace violence is not only from the individuals in society or community, but it also affects the employees and the organization itself. There are immediate and direct costs, as well as delayed or hidden costs. Some of these direct costs are death, injury, cleanup, repair, replacement, lost wages to workers, and litigation. Hidden or delayed costs can include decreased efficiency, diversion of management and employee attention, and the "side effect" of fear to name a few. Prevention, which is often the best policy, can also be a major cost to an organization. The authors state that minimizing the risk of workplace violence can generate its own cost for managers and their organizations. Security, electronics, and physical barriers are some of the major costs of prevention.

The second part of the book is about the causes of workplace violence and dealing with environmental influences whether they are socioeconomic over-under society, political -legal, the changing nature of jobs, or the changing nature of the workforce. Through careful assessment or observations, managers and supervisors as well as other employees in leadership positions are more likely to notice a change in behavior. Managers and leaders interface with employees and, thus, can play a vital role in identifying workers whose environmentally-influenced problems can be escalating in the near future toward a violent eruption. Upon identification, one can be proactive in dealing with it and be prepared for possible consequences.

Part three of Van Fleet and Van Fleet's book focuses on workplace influences and behaviors; the authors mention how some occupations are more dangerous than others. Occupations such as police work, social work, psychiatry, and engineering have different levels of threat for violent incidents. The book points out that although other occupations may not be considered dangerous there can still be accidents or acts of violence perpetrated against them. Organizations should be proactive in preventing accidents and violence.

Part four discusses employees and how certain factors more heavily influence their behavior in the organization. These factors can be financial, personal, work related, or personality related. Management must be trained to recognize how violence builds through different levels if they are to prevent it on a proactive basis. All employees and not just first line supervisors need training in how to help diffuse a hostile and potentially violent situation (Van Fleet and Van Fleet, 2010, p. …

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