Don’t assume that the co-worker or employee who is frequently late, absent, emotional with co-workers, tired, depressed or frequently calling in ill – and is frustrating you to no end – is lazy, lying or uninterested in his or her job or company. Chances are that there is another very deep-rooted reason for that employee’s poor job performance, a reason that affects one out of every four women and one out of every fourteen men in the United States: Domestic Violence, a national social problem that impacts each and every one of us from our relationships to our safety and to our personal and business wallets.
Here are the national statistics:
Another disturbing fact is that domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness in this country, especially among women and children. When a woman needs her job the most – when she is trying to leave her partner – the abuse gets worse and so does her job performance. It’s at that point that she is often fired. With no source of income and no support system, she can end up on the streets.
Unbelievable as it may seem, an abuser generally doesn’t want his partner to work – not because he can’t use the income, but because her success, interaction with others and time away from him is seen by him as diminishing his power. The economic self-sufficiency of his victim challenges his control and he will do anything to keep that from happening, including these behaviors that sabotage his partner’s ability to work:
Often, those women who are trying hard to become self-sufficient and leave their abusers in order to make better lives for themselves and their children lose their jobs and return to their abusers, go on welfare or become homeless. It doesn’t have to be that way, and there are steps that can be taken by employers to ensure that women don’t become even more victimized, while, at the same time, help ensure productivity and reduce company expenses.
Workplace support can significantly help victims when they’re attempting to free themselves from violent situations at home, but historically, particularly among small to medium-sized businesses, employers simply don’t understand domestic violence and its consequences and don’t provide opportunities for their staff to discuss the reasons behind their poor performance. And often their genuine desire to respect their employee’s privacy interferes with their objectivity. In fact, only four percent of all working establishments train their staff on domestic violence and its impact in the workplace. That’s easy to correct. Here are some suggestions:
Never doubt for one moment that by becoming smarter about this issue you will not only be improving your workplace, but you could also be saving someone’s life. At the very least, you could be someone’s hero and make your company more successful. Do some research. Find out the names of those corporations that understand the issue of domestic violence and have programs in place through their HR departments to help employees who are victims, and then develop your own safeguards. Domestic violence is a huge social ill in this country that affects one-fourth of all working men and women and their children and costs our federal, state and local governments and our businesses billions of dollars each year. Don’t be caught off guard when the issue becomes a part of your own business. Develop a plan now. Become a part of the solution.
Penny Lauer is an author, motivational speaker & writing consultant who spent several years working with abused women. Her latest novel, Skipping Stones, tackles the subject of domestic violence in an upscale community. Visit pennyslauer.com or email email@example.com for further information.
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