Lockdown, Hybrid Working and Domestic Abuse. Over the lockdown period there has been a rise in reported incidents of Domestic Abuse, with one source quoting an increase of 60%. For the targets of Domestic Abuse, lockdown has meant increased exposure to their abuser. Their hitherto limited control and agency has been diminished, whilst the power and control experienced by the abuser has soared. Targets of abuse are isolated and distanced from the social support they might have accessed from work colleagues.
We understand the leaders and managers are in a difficult position here, they may be asking themselves at what point do concerns about their team-members become intrusive, or what signs and cues should they be looking for and this too has been exacerbated by lockdown.
The CIPD reports that around 25% of people surveyed were aware that their employers had a Domestic Abuse Policy – so 75% either didn’t have one or weren’t aware of it if one was in place. For me this suggests a significant policy absence or an equally concerning shortfall in communicating our policies. This excellent source document goes on to discuss how people (HR Managers and others) might open up some very sensitive conversations related to Domestic Abuse, including controlling behaviour.
Domestic Abuse can present in a wide range of workplace contexts, from absences to performance issues, emotional outbursts and the desire to be isolated (left alone) at such times. The CIPD report gives an overview of behaviours that might prompt you to consider how and when you will intervene. It shouldn’t be ignored!
The business case is a pretty clear one; colleagues are unlikely to perform well if their domestic environment is toxified by fear of physical violence, psychological terrorism and the accompanying feelings of worthlessness. In building an inclusive and caring society we have to play our part and that includes a commitment to helping others to address their challenges so that they might live more enjoyable, safer and more productive lives.
Hybrid Working and Domestic Abuse
We can achieve great outcomes. I’d been asked to coach an employee whose performance had dipped significantly. Our conversations revealed that their manager’s verbal intonations, their body language and other significant cues, reminded them of an abusive partner: one who had tried to strangle them. The secret had been buried for 25 years. A brilliant employer arranged counselling, a new reporting line and further access to a specialist organisation.
The issues and their related outcomes are challenging, distressing and made more so by lockdown, hybrid work patterns and outsourcing. Nonetheless this feels to me to be an issue of Human Dignity that requires sensitive and purposeful handling, to seek help where necessary and to challenge our own beliefs, biases and judgements.
 The Guardian/Society/23.03.21
 Managing & Supporting Employees Experiencing Domestic Abuse. CIPD September 2020