Report Commissioned by the International Labour Organization

The cost of violence/stress at work and the benefits of a violence/stress-free working environment

This report explores the issues of stress and violence at work with the aim of establishing the costs these problems may present to the individual, the organisation and society.

This report will explore the problems of stress and various forms of violence at the beginning of the new millennium and the relationship between them. The main focus will be on the cost of stress/violence. To establish the cost a clear indication of the possible effects of stress and violence is needed. In order to put organisations into action such an exploration needs to be comprehensive in the sense that it includes not only the costs to the individual but also the potential costs to the organisations. Moreover, in order to gain the attention of policy providers, the costs to society should also be emphasized.

In spite of numerous pitfalls in the research on stress and violence at work, (particularly of a conceptual and methodological nature), and utilizing the often far from perfect data, it is attempted to put a price on the problems. To support this attempt, some simple methods of cost-calculation are introduced.

As the primary aim of this report is to bring about change, interventions will also be discussed. Progress on intervention with regard to stress and various forms of violence will be evaluated and where relevant, good examples of successful interventions will be presented.

However, before discussing the problems of workplace stress and violence, some factors and trends which are likely to affect the presence and scale of violence at work will be briefly highlighted.