One Out of Seven People Don't Feel Safe at Work: SHRM

New data from the Society for Human Resource Management indicates that roughly one out of seven Americans do not feel safe at work.

According to new data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), about one out of seven Americans do not feel safe at work. The data follow heightened awareness of workplace violence, with the latest incident, a workplace shooting in Aurora, Ill., leaving five people dead.

Per SHRM research, almost half of HR professionals said their organization had, at some point, experienced an incident of workplace violence at some level—an increase from 36 percent of respondents in 2012. Of those who reported having experienced workplace violence, more than half said their organization had experienced an incident during the last year.

"Companies and HR should and must do more to make employees feel safe at work," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of SHRM. "This data shows we have a lot of work to do in terms of security, prevention, training, and response."

Almost one-third of American workers and almost one out of five HR professionals said they were currently unsure or didn't know what to do if they witnessed or were involved in an incident of workplace violence.

"The goal for employers—and this is something we address in our toolkit—is making your workplace a 'difficult' target for violent offenders and being prepared to react quickly," Taylor said. "If you make the investment in security and preparation, your employees will feel safer and respect you for valuing their safety."

While the majority of HR professionals reported that their organization already provides training to employees on how to respond to an act of workplace violence, more than one-third do not provide such training to employees. In addition, while almost all said their company has a process for identifying workers with a history of violence, more than half aren't sure whether they have a workplace violence prevention program.

According to the research, U.S. workers feel safer when employers provide programs on workplace violence prevention and training response. More employees know how to react to an incident if their company already has a workplace violence prevention and/or employee response training program.

"Education has to start from the top down, and often that starts with HR," Taylor said. "There's naturally a lot of fear when people think of workplace violence. But preparing and providing employees with hands-on training helps empower them to react and take action in the event of a worst-case scenario."

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