The Prediction of On-the-Job Violence
KAREN B. SLORA, DENNIS S. JOY, JOHN W. JONES, AND WILLIAM TERRIS
As negligent hiring suits, often based on the misconduct of employees, increase, employers seek means of being able to identify those persons most likely to engage in disruptive or assaultive behaviors. Not only is the potential of a lawsuit costly, but the perceived goodwill and public image of a company is tarnished when it is found that one of its employees has assaulted or violently argued with a customer. Even fairly mundane acts, such as arguing with a customer, can result in losses in that both repeat business and the reputation of the company are threatened.
On-the-job violence is not limited to extremely aggressive criminal acts, such as rape or assault. Of concern to most employers is the more commonplace violence and aggressiveness toward customers such as volatile arguments and fights. Such acts can drive business away and directly hurt the bottom line. Such violent work behaviors are not infrequent. A recent anonymous survey of employees from six supermarket chains ( Slora, 1989; Slora & Boye, 1989) showed that 37 percent admitted to arguing with customers, 4 percent to fighting with customers, and 7 percent to fighting with coworkers or supervisors within the past six months.
Table 13.1 provides a representation of how on-the-job violent behavior can range from least injurious and costly violence to more extreme and harmful on- the-job violence. Companies are interested in controlling all types of on-the-job violence in order to improve the bottom line, lower insurance costs, and avoid legal suits.