It is often stated that “staff are the most important asset” to any business yet frequently employers fail to take the correct steps to ensure the security of their staff. What the HR training brochures say is quite correct and you really must take steps to look after your employees, at every level.
Whatever your industry, your employees are a significant investment from the outset and it makes sense that once you have gone through the effort of finding them, selecting them, hiring them and training them, that you protect this investment by ensuring that you continue to invest in their security. Even if you manage to avoid any legal obligations, it really is significantly more cost effective than having to replace them.
Ensuring you maximise your employee’s security is not challenging and should be part of your normal business process – it is driven by these in the first place – but it seems to be something businesses forget to do. With a global marketplace now, it is all the more important that you plan ahead and ensure that wherever your staff are, they have the best possible chance of coming home safely.
Staff security does not mean hiring body guards to follow them everywhere they go (well, it might in some situations…), it just means assessing the threats around them and taking sensible, proportionate measures to reduce the risks. While it isn’t possible to cover every possible scenario in a blog post, some points you should consider for the most common risk categories of staff:
- Loneworkers. If you, or your staff, work alone then you need to consider the implications of how they can deal with changing situations. For example: you have a lone worker in your offices at night and they hear a suspicious noise. Do they have a mechanism by which they can investigate without putting themselves in danger? Can they summon assistance? If you think people might want to break in and steal property, then it makes sense to ensure that if this happens your employee is not placed in unnecessary danger. With lone workers, it is also important to keep in mind the HSE guidance and carry out a full risk assessment.
- Travelers. Lots of companies have their employees move around the country, or increasingly around the globe. This can include sales personnel, engineers, delivery workers, supervisors etc. This frequently means asking people to move from their comfort zone and places they know well to strange environments. Even without leaving the UK, people can quickly find themselves in strange territory and at risk. When your staff are travelling on official business, their security is the responsibility of your company and if your employees have high value items with them (laptops, tools, samples etc), then the threats they face increase over and above their normal lifestyle. It is imperative that you put in place training to advise them on how to behave and processes by which they can ensure their own safety and the protection of company property. If you ask your employees to go overseas then it is even more important that this process is mature and well applied.
- High Value Staff. Every business has key employees who are vital to the organisation. This can range from specialists to key decision makers to the person who has access to your storage facilities. These are individuals who face a threat almost all the time and often so do their families. If your organisation has high-value goods in storage there is a risk that criminal groups will kidnap a key staff member’s family to force the employee to hand over the goods. (This is known as a “tiger kidnapping” and is unfortunately common in the UK and Ireland). The situation can be made worse if your High Value Staff are also required to travel on business, but this should all be covered off in your security plan. One common requirement is that if more than one “High Value” employee is travelling on business they have to travel separately as this reduces the risk of a single incident multiplying the impact.
There are many more categories of employee you should consider and we would always emphasise that this has to be part of your risk management process. Keep in mind that identification of the risks is only the first stage, the important work is developing ways of ensuring that your staff remain secure doing your work where ever they are and what ever their circumstances. As part of our security awareness downloads program, Halkyn Consulting is in the process of developing guidance notes for business looking at developing a staff security plan. Keep visiting this blog, subscribe to our RSS feed or get in touch to find out more. If you dont have your own security team to build your plan, or you want external assistance & verification then why dont you visit our main site and arrange a free quote on how we can help you.
Security is not about preventing your business from doing things, security is about making sure it is done in a sustainable manner that will enable you do business again tomorrow.
If you have a business opportunity that means you have to send your top sales person and managing director to Iraq, then having a good security program means you dont have to lose this business out of fear. You can seize the opportunity, make profits and keep your employees secure. Never, ever, think that security is a hindrance to your business.
If you want more information on how to develop staff security plans, are interested in what the threats from various countries are, or would like advice on any aspect of staff security then contact Halkyn Security Consultants, where our specialist security advisors will bring their global experience to your business.