One third of employees experience aggression in the workplace30 July 2012, by Carly Blair
Last year in the Netherlands, 33 percent of employees of all sectors experienced aggression in the workplace, including 48 percent of employees in the health care sector, according to new data from Statistics Netherlands.
Last year, 24 percent of employees in all sectors encountered workplace aggression committed by external perpetrators, 16 percent encountered workplace aggression committed by internal perpetrators (i.e. colleagues), and 7 percent experienced both external and internal workplace aggression.
Employees who have a lot of contact with patients, visitors, customers or pupils experience workplace aggression relatively often. In sectors such as health care, public administration (e.g. the police), education and hotels and restaurants, aggression committed by external perpetrators is indeed more common.
The frequency of internal aggression varies less from sector to sector, ranging from about 12 to 20 percent, but occurs most frequently in the Industry and Transport sectors, and more often than external aggression in the sectors of Information and Communication, Industry and Energy, Construction, and Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery.
Among all sectors, intimidation by internal and external perpetrators is the most common type of aggressive behaviour, with one in four employees having to cope with intimidation last year. Bullying is in second place in nearly all sectors and affects approximately 12 percent of employees. Health care is the only sector in which physical violence and sexual intimidation are more common than bullying.
Aggressive behaviour affects women more frequently than men (38 percent of women vs. 29 percent of men), since women are more often employed in sectors where external contacts are frequent, such as health 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.
Within a given industry 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.