The wider impact of aggression as investment case
Yearly tens of thousands of frontline professionals in too many public and private service sectors experience verbal and physical aggression. This has a lot of impact at all levels: the individual in safety, health and happiness, the organisation in consequential damages and costs, and the sector in the availability, productivity and continuity of qualified professionals. Bodycams have a positive impact and return on investment in reducing incidents, stress, sick-leave and loss of employees. Everyday without bodycam systems can be a day too late for one of them.
The direct and indirect costs of aggression at work
Many frontline professionals from police to traffic wardens, from emergency services to shop staff, from social workers to journalists face verbal and physical aggression frequently. This adds-up to hundreds of thousands per country and millions of victims per continent every year at a time of aging and retiring populations. Causing labour shortages in all sectors. Every professional is needed healthy and happy at work.
Of the 9,4 million working citizens in the Netherlands, around 190,000 have taken sick leave in 2021 due to external verbal or physical abuse. Each sick day costs employers on average around €250 a day, with many employees needing more than one day after such a serious work incident. This naturally adds up over time, with even the minimum estimate standing at €47.5 million a year. This is only sick leave, without the consequential damages of healthcare, legal fees, replacement costs, training costs and reintegration costs to name just a few.
An acknowledged researcher on aggression in the workplace calculated that in one year, employers in the Netherlands lost over €600 million due to aggression. While these are all direct costs resulting from public aggression or verbal abuse, there is another element that will cost society dearly in the medium term. It adds to the stress that is the reason for thousands of healthcare professionals in the Netherlands to consider a change in career. This trend is present in many other frontline sectors as well, and a severe threat to the availability and continuity of public services and safety in our communities.
These concerning trends are going on in most or all prosperous countries around the world. International research shows that for the global economy, the cost of psychosocial burdens (both internal and external) amounts to around $1.5 trillion, or 2% of the total global gross domestic product (GDP). These psychosocial burdens include verbal and physical aggression, with both internal and external origins.
Bodycam systems reduce incidents and their costs
Research from bodycam expert Sander Flight shows marked decreases in violence, threats and ‘annoying behaviour’ towards police officers by the public. Having consistent, reliable evidence from bodycam systems as impartial observer also improves the speed and efficiency of courts. While these studies focused on the impact of bodycam solutions used by police, these benefits also apply in many other public sectors and professions.
In the U.K. a recent healthcare survey showed that more than 15% of employees report to have experienced violence from patients, their relatives or the public in the last 12 months. Other U.K. research found significant reductions of over 50% in the amount of incidents due to the use of bodycam system. The healthcare employees also noted higher levels of safety and satisfaction. The researchers also indicated that the cost of acquiring bodycam solutions could be offset by the reduction of serious incidents and their associated costs.
Another U.K. trial researched the effects of bodycams on aggression in public transport. A 47% reduction in assaults against public transport officials was found during the randomised controlled trial, leading to the prevention of 3,000 sick days due to external aggression multiplied with the €250 cost per day mentioned earlier, estimates that just in this one, brief trial saved U.K. railway companies €750,000 in employee sick leave. The researchers concluded that “BWCs provide substantial benefits for staff health and safety to those who are equipped with the devices as well as to staff in the vicinity of BWC-equipped employees.”
Bodycam systems have a (very) positive ROI
Bodycam systems have proven to:
- Prevent verbal and physical aggression and resulting stress
- Increase actual and perceived safety for frontline professionals
- Provide indisputable evidence for efficient, quick prosecution and justice
- Deliver valuable videos for evaluation and training
- Ensure further prevention and reduction of aggression and stress
Bodycam systems have a very positive return-on-costs in improving the safety, happiness and availability of millions of frontline professionals needed to protect and serve society. These benefits more than compensate the costs, to such an extent that they can and want to continue to do their valuable work for all of us.