When an employer plays a positive role in providing support for a worker who is affected by family violence or abuse, it can be of real benefit to both parties. The worker gets the support they need and the employer is likely to have less staff absenteeism, a reduction in staff turnover and improved productivity. It makes sense that employees who are well supported are less distracted and stressed and will contribute more to a business.
Family violence is any behaviour which controls or intimidates someone in your family or household. It can be physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, including things such as threats, intimidation, yelling, harassment or damage to property. The sooner we reach out to someone who is living with family violence, the sooner they can get help. Also, the sooner we reach out to someone who is being violent or abusive, the sooner they can get help and the abuse can stop.
There are a number of straightforward ways an employer can play their part in supporting a worker who is facing family violence or abuse. Displaying an ‘It’s Not OK’ poster with the free phone information line number on it (0800 456 450) in the staff bathroom or on the work notice board is a simple step. This number can link people up with local support services and provide a wide range of other information and support. These free posters can either be ordered from the It’s Not OK website (areyouok.org.nz), or you can pick one up from Homebuilders office at 5 Hexham Street in Warkworth.
If an employee approaches you because they are facing family violence or abuse, don’t feel you need to be an instant expert to be useful and supportive. Just saying, ‘I’m glad you said something, can I give you the number of someone who can talk the whole thing through with you’ is a great start. The main tip is to believe the person and not to blame them for being abused. So it’s important to avoid saying things like, ‘Why do you let him treat you that way?’ This is because the blame lies squarely with the abuser, not the victim.
The main message from the It’s Not OK campaign is also worth repeating: “Family violence isn’t ok, but it is ok to ask for help”.
Supporting employees who are going through a tricky time will increase your reputation as a good employer. Taking worker wellbeing seriously gets noticed by your staff and works in the interests of both parties.