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Domestic Violence Awareness Month: B.O.S.S. In The Workplace

October 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Blog

Bringing, Optimism back to Secure, Stability in the Workplace

Statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • In the United States, twenty people every minute are victims of physical violence by a partner.
  • In a typical day, Domestic Violence hotlines take more than 20,000 calls.
  • A study of homicides including Domestic Violence revealed that 20% of the time the murder victim is NOT the Domestic Violence victim, but instead family members, friends, co workers, neighbors and bystanders.

With statistics such as those aforementioned, it would be impossible to think as an Entrepreneur, Manager or Executive Director that this epidemic will not touch your workplace in some way.  Either one of your employees, volunteers or Board Members may be living with Domestic Violence directly or they are close to someone who is and due to that fact…you will have to address this issue at some point.  Sooner rather than later.

I am a firm believer in being proactive versus reactive.  As an Entrepreneur or Executive Director, if you asked your employees directly if they were a victim of Domestic Violence; your response would most likely be NO.  However; creating an environment that encourages, empowers and supports will allow employees to seek the needed help while for once holding their dignity.

In order to address an issue, one has to become informed.  What are the signs that one of your staff members may be living under abusive circumstances.  What does that look like?  Let’s take a look:

  • Visible/Physical Injuries
  • Depression
  • Excessive Absenteeism/Tardiness
  • Isolation from Co workers
  • Fear upon receiving a call or visit from partner
  • Anxiety at the close of the day
  • Lack of Concentration

Now an employer may think…this is a personal problem; this is none of my business!  As long as they do their job, I will utilize the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  You may want to reevaluate that thought process once you see the direct effects it may have on your company/organization:

  • Domestic Violence victims lose 8 million paid days of work each year
  • Domestic Violence impact on businesses exceeds 8.3 billion a year, which includes 727.8 million for lost productivity.

As a good employer, you would be remiss to not address this.  So how can your company combat this epidemic?  Here are a few ideas:

*Protect Their Confidentiality: Upon being made aware that an employee is a victim of Domestic Violence; maintaining confidentiality regarding their co workers will ensure that that employee will continue to confide in you so that you can redirect them to the proper resources to assist.  In their personal environment, trust is something that is lacking so providing them a space to feel that they can trust again is the first step to healing.

*You Are Not The Expert: Acknowledging that while you may wear many hats; being a Domestic Violence expert may not be one of them.  Understanding that someone who chooses to leave an abusive relationship is at their most danger.  This will place the importance of a strategic action plan and that executing that to be of benefit of all parties involved, should include the experts. Referring them to Domestic Violence Shelters, allowing them to make the calls to these various support groups at the workplace will be beneficial to securing safety while seeking help.  If your company has an Employee Assistance Program, refer them to it.  This may be of much benefit as well. 

*Flexibility: Knowing that this may be an issue that is beyond an employees control, being flexible with regard to tardiness or absenteeism within reason may help.  Having some form of income may be one of the ways in which this employee will utilize as their “escape plan” so taking that away will assist in keeping the victim as such…a victim.  Working with the employee regarding their schedule on a temporary basis can make all the difference in helping that person maintain hope.

*Staff Training: Without making mention of the person in order to protect their confidentiality, having a staff meeting during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and periodically will allow co workers to become more aware of such a delicate topic and more sympathetic to those they may feel are a victim to it; thus disarming a hostile environment.  This may also allow employees to assist their friends/family of whom they know are victims of Domestic Violence with the knowledge you provide in the workplace.  This empowers all involved.  It sends a message to all that as their B.O.S.S. you truly care and are there for them.  Knowledge is power.  Invite respresentatives of reputable Non Profits that support this cause to speak to your employees. 

Developing a staff of longevity, empowering your staff beyond the paycheck is showing them that you care and is invaluable.  Domestic Violence is a slow death of self esteem, work productivity and a killer to a healthy work community and social community at large.  It takes a village to support those who may not be in a position to fight for themselves. Create an environment of a healthy, supportive and empowering workplace.