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There have been countless reports of frontline workers being verbally or physically attacked since 2020. Just take last month’s aggression toward Target workers over Pride merchandise, or the uptick in violence against healthcare workers.
And these incidents appear to be having an impact. Frontline workers, including those employed in retail and healthcare, are afraid for their safety, according to a June report from Verkada, a security company.
Unsafe spaces. The survey found 58% of frontline workers feel the risk of physical harm on the job is rising, and the majority of healthcare (59%) and retail (58%) workers fear being subject to “erratic or aggressive behavior.”
And there appears to be a disconnect between management and their workforces: 67% of leaders said they think their employees feel safe, but just 37% of workers reported actually feeling safe.
HR’s role. Some 43% of surveyed employers said the lack of workplace safety has impacted their recruitment and retention efforts. Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, told HR Brew that it ultimately falls to HR, as well as the CEO and board, to make sure an environment is safe for workers.
“With respect to mental health, physical health; with respect to just the safety of the workplace—they [workers] have entrusted their well-being in a variety of dimensions to the organization,” he said. “This comes at least from the head of HR, but frankly, I think this is a CEO and board of directors responsibility.”