Half of employees experience aggression in the workplace

20/07/2012 15:00

Last year, 48 percent of employees in the health care sector had to cope with workplace aggression, versus 33 percent of all employees. Women were harassed more often than men, because they are more frequently employed in sectors where the number of external contacts is high.

Many customer contacts, more aggressive behaviour

Employees who have many contacts with patients, visitors, customers or pupils relatively often experience workplace aggression. In the sectors health care, public administration (e.g. the police), education and hotels and restaurants, aggression committed by external perpetrators is indeed more common. Last year, 24 percent of all employees faced aggression committed by external perpetrators.

In total, 16 percent of employees were faced with internal workplace aggression (colleagues). The differences between the various sectors regarding internal aggression are small. Internal aggression is most frequently found in the sectors industry and transport.

Internal as well as external workplace aggression was experienced by 7 percent of employees.

Workplace aggression by sector, 2011

Workplace aggression by sector, 2011

Intimidation and bullying most common types of workplace aggression

In all sectors, intimidation by internal and external perpetrators is the most common type of aggressive behaviour. One in four employees had to cope with intimidation last year. With 36 percent, the rate was considerably higher in the care sector. Bullying is in second place in nearly all sectors and affects approximately 12 percent of employees. Care is the only sector where physical violence and sexual intimidation occur more often than bullying.

Types of workplace aggression in various sectors, 2011

Types of workplace aggression in various sectors, 2011

More female victims

Aggressive behaviour affects 38 percent of women and 29 percent of men. This is due to the fact that women are more often employed in sectors where external contacts are frequent, e.g. care and education. They have to deal with external aggression – like external intimidation and sexual intimidation – more often. Men more often experience internal aggression, like bullying and internal intimidation.

There is hardly any difference between men and women regarding the amount of aggressive behaviour they experience. Only in wholesale and retail trade (e.g. shop workers) and in the sector business services, women more often experienced external aggression than their male colleagues.

Internal and external workplace against men and women, 2011

Internal and external workplace against men and women, 2011

Mieke Mateboer, Elke Moons and Marjolein Korvorst