Social workers' experiences of workplace violence

Fayo, Xola Lucas (2021-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Studies across the globe have shown that workplace violence against social workers has become an endemic problem in both developed and developing countries. Workplace violence can therefore be classified as physical violence, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, and/or aggression. Such traumatic experiences arising from workplace violence exposure are of particular concern where access to treatment and/or psychosocial support is often unattainable. Workplace violence against social work employees is a common occurrence in South Africa. However, there are serious limitations in the present literature on understanding workplace violence in the South African social service profession. The epidemic of workplace violence remains largely under-reported and under- researched; existing research studies focus primarily on healthcare personnel workplace violence. The primary goal of the research was to gain an understanding of South African social workers' experiences of workplace violence, to better understand the causes and implications of this phenomenon. Understanding South African social worker’s experiences of workplace violence is of great significance to address and prevent the phenomena of workplace violence in a social work setting. For purpose of the study, a qualitative research approach was implemented, along with the exploratory and descriptive research designs. Purposive and snowball sampling were employed to identify prospective research participants of the seventeen semi- structured interviews. From the seventeen social workers, experiences of workplace violence within the South African context telephonic interviews were used due to Covid-19 rules and regulations and as REC suspended face to face interviews. Gathered data was analysed using thematic content analysis. The key findings of the study revealed that South African social workers experience various forms of workplace violence in practice. It varies according to individuals, organisations, and communities. Workplace violence occurs in all five types of workplace violence namely, client-related workplace violence, co-workers related workplace violence, employer to employee workplace violence, and relationships related workplace violence and organisational related workplace violence. Factors contributing to workplace violence to name the few (see, for example, lack resources, lack of safety, inability to deal with the situational crises, lack of workplace violence policy, support, and measures Non-Governmental Organisations, favouritism, unfair treatment, bullying newly appointed employees and divisions within the organisation). It was found that workplace violence does exist in the social work profession, but it is just that no one is talking about it. It was found that newly appointed social workers are being bullied, picked up a lot and when addressing these unethical treatments to supervisors, the supervisor does nothing and senior employees get away with it. To address workplace violence, it is recommended that workplace violence policies, measures and support should be implemented in South African social work practice to safeguard social workers from workplace violence. It has been recommended that the social worker's safety should be the priority, provide resources, a collaboration between DSD and NGOs, apply professionalism and attend reported issues and the DSD need to educate the communities and clients about social workers role.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Studies oor die wêreld heen toon dat werkplekgeweld teenoor maatskaplike werkers ‘n endemiese probleem geword het in beide ontwikkelde en onderontwikkelde lande. Werkplekgeweld kan geklassifiseer word as fisiese geweld, verbale mishandeling, dreigemente, intimidasie, teistering en/of aggressie. Sulke traumatiese ervaringe voortspruitend uit blootstelling aan werkplekgeweld is van besondere kommer waar toegang tot behandeling en/of psigososiale ondersteuning dikwels onvolhoubaar is. Werkplekgeweld teenoor maatskaplike werkers is ‘n algemene tendens in Suid-Afrika. Daar is ernstige beperkings in die teenswoordige literatuur oor die begrip van werkplekgeweld in die Suid Afrikaanse maatskaplikewerk-professie. Die epidemie van werkplekgeweld is ‘n ongerapporteerde en -nagevorsde fenomeen; bestaande navorsingstudies fokus primêr op werkplekgeweld van gesondheidsorgpersoneel. Die primêre doel van hierdie navorsing is om ‘n begrip te ontwikkel vir Suid Afrikaanse maatskaplike werkers se ervarings van werkplekgeweld ten einde die oorsake en implikasies van hierdie verskynsel beter te begryp. Die begrip van die Suid Afrikaanse maatskaplike werkers se ervarings van werkplekgeweld is van groot betekenis vir die aanspreek en voorkoming van die verskynsel van werkplekgeweld in ‘n maatskaplikewerk-opset. Vir die doel van die studie is ‘n kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering geïmplementeer, saam met verkennende en beskrywende navorsingsontwerpe. Doelbewuste en sneeubal steekproefneming is gebruik om voornemende deelnemers te identifiseer vir die gestruktureerde onderhoude. Telefoniese onderhoude is benut om die werkplekgeweldervarings van sewentien maatskaplike werkers in te win, en om die Covid-19 reëls en regulasies na te kom. Data is geanaliseer deur die benutting van inhoudanalise. Die sleutelbevindinge het aan die lig gebring dat die Suid Afrikaanse maatskaplike werkers verskeie vorms van werkplekgeweld in die praktyk ervaar. Dit verskil volgens individue, organisasies en gemeenskappe. Werkplekgeweld kom voor in al die vyf tipes van werkplekgeweld naamlik, kliëntverwante werkplekgeweld, mede-werkers verwante werkplekgeweld, werkgewer tot werkgewer werkplekgeweld, verhoudingsverwante werkplekgeweld en organisatoriese verwante werkplekgeweld. Bydraende faktore tot werkplekgeweld, om slegs ‘n paar te noem, is die gebrek aan hulpbronne, gebrek aan veiligheid, onvermoë om situasionele krisisse aan te spreek, gebrek aan werkplekgeweldbeleid, ondersteuning en maatreëls in partikulêre Nie- Regeringsorganisasies, voorkeurbehandeling, onbillike behandeling, en boelie van nuut aangestelde werknemers in die organisasie. Daar is bevind dat werkplekgeweld wel binne die maatskaplikewerk-professie bestaan, maar niemand praat daaroor nie. Daar is verder bevind dat nuut aangestelde maatskaplike werkers geboelie word, en wanneer hierdie onetiese behandeling aan supervisors gerapporteer word, word niks gedoen om dit aan te spreek nie, en senior werknemers word nooit aangespreek nie. Daar is ook bevind dat maatskaplike werkers wat vir NROs werk, self werkplekgeweld ervaar of ʼn getuie daarvan is, anders as maatskaplike werkers in diens is van byvoorbeeld die staat. Ten einde werkplekgeweld aan te spreek, word aanbeveel dat werkplekgeweldbeleide, -maatreëls en -ondersteuning geïmplementeer word in die Suid Afrikaanse maatskaplikewerk-praktyk om maatskaplike werkers van werkplekgeweld te beveilig. Dit word aanbeveel dat die veiligheid van maatskaplike werkers prioriteit moet geniet, sowel as die verbetering in die voorsiening van hulpbronne, samewerking tussen organisasies, toepassing van professionaliteit en die aanspreek van gerapporteerde kwessies.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/123758
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