The 25th November is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is important to consider the role employers have to play when addressing domestic violence and how it can also affect the workplace.
Domestic and family violence not only affects the victim in their personal lives but also their professional life.
Domestic violence has very real impacts on employees and the workplace. The victim can suffer health, and economic costs and mental health can deteriorate. For organisations, this can lead to lower productivity and efficiency, more absences from work, lower staff retention rates and decreased motivation.
Victims of domestic violence and domestic abuse can still be subject to unbelievable pressures when they reach the office. They can be harassed and threatened via email and phone from their partner. Their abuser may even target some at their place of work.
This type of behaviour affects the workforce as a whole, with staff exposed to the abuse in person. Many organisations recognise it is essential and relevant to have a Domestic Violence policy in place to support employees. They also are now recognising how crucial it is to provide training to managers and staff about how to respond and how to support colleagues. We can no longer turn away or a blind eye to this venomous behaviour.
Work can often become a sanctuary away from abuse, and as an employer, it’s essential to encourage a working environment that is safe for all employees.
Creating a non-judgmental space where victims feel confident to talk about their experiences, can help raise awareness and make sure that someone is getting the help they deserve.
Having a professional training event for all employees to become familiar and aware not only of symptoms but how to help, what to say and what to avoid saying. Training usually is (or should be) based on three elements; Recognise, Respond and Refer.
Can you recognise who is suffering from Domestic Violence? It can be easier once you know what to look and listen out for.
When a woman (or man) is experiencing domestic violence or abuse, their patterns of behaviour will likely change. Managers should remain connected to their team to be able to recognise any changes. Some behaviours to look out for may include:
- Frequently arriving to work very early or very late
- Frequent personal phone calls that leave the employee distressed
- Increased anxiety
- Dismissal of anything going on at home
- Continued excuses for marks, bruises or distress
If someone has taken the difficult step of sharing their experience of violence or abuse, it is vital to respond in an appropriate and supportive manner.
- Believe the person and listen without judging
- Be supportive, encouraging, open and honest
- Discuss with the employee or colleague what might help them feel safe at work, e.g. screening calls, changing email address, priority or secure parking.
Steps to take to help protect the staff member include:
- Screen their phone calls or install caller ID on their phone
- Change their email address
- Remove their details from the organisation’s directories
- Arrange for priority parking close to the building entrance
- Organise for them to be accompanied to and from their car
Email us now to get information on the most up-to-date effective training for all employees
While provisions such as additional special leave, financial assistance and security measures will go a long way towards supporting the victim to remain in the workplace, other external supports may also be required.
- Ensure your employees are aware of appropriate support services available through any EAP organisation or funded through work
- Referral to specialist domestic violence services, information on crisis care facilities and refuges
- Provide information on domestic violence orders and court support
- If the matter has been reported to Police, the employee may qualify to receive support through Victims of Crime for ongoing counselling support or be eligible to receive Crime Compensation entitlements
This insidious issue continues to strike too many. With support and encouragement, individuals can become stronger, louder and more intolerant of these behaviours. It is only with the support of employers and work colleagues can this strength be developed. It is a community issue, no longer a private family matter.
For training and information, please contact us to arrange a few hours or full day of training for all employees and management. It can change the face of your workplace and improve staff morale and motivation significantly if employees feel valued and supported. Teaching staff not only to look out for each other in the workplace but to gain the skills to use with friends and family is invaluable.
Contact us now to discuss your training needs to help all employees and families. Isn’t it time that workplaces and organisations took a proactive stand against this hideous issue. We all talk about it, now is the time to finally start doing something.
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