Background and Purpose: The current study examines workplace aggression in municipal social service departments (MSSDs). Whereas workplace bullying and aggression has been studied in various professional contexts, it has seldom been examined in the context of social work agencies. Questions still abide regarding the role of personal level involvement both as victim and as aggressor, as well as workplace climate effects. Personal level variables may include belief systems, sense of control, gender, family status, and experience, whereas workplace level variables may include workplace hostile climate and service climate. The goal of the present study was to explore such involvement, its precursors, and outcomes.
Methods: The study was a survey study of workplace relationships among 72 social work teams (490 participants) in Israeli MSSDs. Sampling was a convenience purposive sample, directed at maximizing variation across municipalities. The survey instrument included variables adapted from the Client Violence Questionnaire (CVQ), the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), and well as measures of stress symptoms (ST). In order to control for within team clustering a robust regression analyses were conducted using STATA14. In order to avoid multicolinearity, the TPB variable: attitudes and subjective-norms were combined into a "Beliefs" variable.
Results: High association was found between being-victimized and aggressing against others. Hostile-climate at the workplace increased the probability of being-victimized as well as perpetrating aggression. Interestingly, service-climate had no effect on being-victimized, however it increased significantly the probability of being-aggressor. Stress-symptoms were positively associated with being-victimized, exposure to workplace hostile-climate, and being a female. Interestingly, such symptoms were negatively associated with beliefs (attitudes and subjective norms).
Conclusions and implications: Workplace aggression and bullying is a multidimensional phenomenon that is related to both individual and organizational levels. Workplace bullying among social workers was seldom examined. The current study offers some interesting foci regarding the relations between individual and workplace level variables in contributing to the phenomenon and to its outcomes on the individual level. Implications for practice and research will be discussed in the presentation.