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The Cost of Workplace Violence in Self-Storage and Other Industries

Workplace violence doesn’t just ruin lives and families, it can have a serious financial impact on a company. It’s vital that self-storage operators understand the costs and do whatever it takes to prevent incidents.

Over the years, analysts have attempted to calculate the financial impact of violence in the workplace. Many of those statistics are based in the national aggregate, relying on reports from workers’ compensation and law enforcement as well as numbers compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Such a methodology arrives at a minimum cost of many tens of billions of dollars per year for American industries, including self-storage.

While such information is important, most business leaders are keener on the question, “If a violent incident occurs at my workplace, what is the possible financial impact on my organization?” The answers are contingent on many variables, such as the size of the business, the nature of the incident, the type of industry, etc. However, it’s possible to identify types of financial impact.

Hidden Costs Before the Fact

Before we examine potential financial effects of workplace violence, let’s address an issue no one writes about in the context of this discussion, though it really should be a part of the conversation. Worker-on-worker violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum or out of the blue. In nearly all cases, abusive supervisory styles, bullying and a sense of injustice have been part of the work culture. In turn, these elements are always associated with multiple hidden costs to the organization.

Actively disengaged workers are less productive, intentionally undermine morale, call in sick more often, can perpetrate acts of passive or active sabotage, and contribute to employee turnover. This is the point: By the time a violent incident occurs, your organization has already been paying the hidden costs of the circumstances that brought it about, often for years. It’s been said, “A good workplace is much cheaper to run than a bad one.” This is true.

The Costs of Workplace Violence

The differences between organizations and the violent incidents that occur make it difficult to estimate financial impact for every case. However, the categories below will be true across the board. Given the many variables, it isn’t practical to suggest specific figures, but you can easily apply the following impacts to your storage business.

  • Critical incident debriefing for affected workers: Survivors of violent events at work, even those with no physical injuries, often struggle to regain a sense of normalcy. Facilitating such an experience for employees isn’t only a moral and ethical obligation, it’s in the best interests of all concerned. In most cases, it’ll require outside facilitators.
  • Temporary closure of the facility: You can arrive at a ballpark figure for your organization by multiplying your estimated daily revenue by the number of days your facility will be closed. This could be anywhere from one day to perhaps three or four.
  • Revenue lost to decline in productivity: Again, the magnitude of this impact is dictated by several things, including the nature of the violence, how many it affected and your organization’s daily revenue. This impact is persistent and slow to resolve.
  • Cleanup and/or restoration of the site: Of course, this is contingent on the nature of the violence and may require a cleaning service.
  • Rise in healthcare premiums triggered by a greater need of psychological services: Even workers who aren’t directly affected by the violent incident will often experience an increase in anxiety and other negative impacts.
  • Increase in workers’ comp premiums: These premiums are calculated based on the size of the workforce, the nature of jobs and your organization’s claims history. Violent incidents with injuries will raise your claims-history index and result in an attending increase in premiums.
  • Litigation costs: These costs have risen substantially in the last decade. Jury awards of several million dollars aren’t uncommon.
  • Replacement costs for up to 10 percent turnover in the workforce: Studies have shown that employee turnover spikes after violent incidents. Human-resources professionals tell us that the cost of turnover can be between two-thirds to twice the annual salary of the person being replaced.

There are other wildcard effects not listed above, such as a possible impact on shareholder value, a public-relations effort to counter negative publicity, etc. When you consider all the ways a violent incident at your workplace can impact your storage business’ bottom line, prevention programs just make good sense.

Gary Sheely is an associate of the Safety Institute and a tactical-confrontation specialist focusing on workplace violence. He’s the author of four books including “Safe at Work: How Smart Supervisors Reduce the Risk of Workplace Violence.” He conducts training workshops for corporations and offers keynotes for organizations across the United States. To learn more, e-mail info@safetyinstitute.com or visit www.safetyinstitute.com.

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