Almost one in five employees working in Belgium were confronted with shouting at work by colleagues in 2021, a recent survey has found.
The survey by HR services group Liantis among 7,513 employees looking into transgressive behaviour found that 18.73% dealt with shouting at work, slightly fewer than in 2020, when 19.17% of employees experienced this. Meanwhile, 5.6% experience physical threats in 2021, down from about 10% in 2020 and 2019.
"At this point, a very large proportion of the population worked from home. Since there were fewer social interactions, it is logical that this percentage should drop," Marco Vandamme, Liantis' prevention advisor for psychosocial aspects. "This applies to both verbal and physical incidents," he added.
Managers most shouted at
Remarkably, people in managerial positions experience verbal abuse more often than colleagues in non-managerial positions, according to the survey.
"An important task of a manager is to assess the functioning of an employee. This means that you, as a manager, more often than an average employee without a managerial function, will have to address your colleagues on, for example, poor performance, and conflicts in the workplace," Vandamme explained.
"These discussions are not always easy and tempers can flare. In addition, a manager often has to intervene in conflicts within the team."
Overall, men report being confronted with people raising their voices at work more often (23.26% of men compared to 17.48% of female employees), as well as physical threats.
However, women do report more aggression from third parties, most likely because they are more often in contact professions, for example, care work.
Creating healthy work environment
Vandamme explained that, when employees have to deal with risks such as high work pressure or a lack of clarity, they will experience more stress and there will be more conflicts in the workplace, including more yelling.
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"Here it applies that if you want to reduce internal aggression, it remains crucial to focus on these psychosocial risks," he said. "It is also important to support all layers within the organisation."
A code of conduct at the organisational level can be useful in achieving this, according to Vandamme.
"As an employer, you can clarify what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. But above all, it is important to create a culture within the company where employees can address each other easily and be approachable."