Business are often excellent at cataloguing the importance and value of the physical assets they hold – such as product stock, machinery, company cars etc. Most are even quite good at identifying and valuing their intellectual assets – things like contact lists, patented processes and so on. Where almost every business falls down is realising the importance and value of the people that form the bedrock of your ability to do business – your employees, your executives and your family.
As well as meeting legal requirements about ensuring your staff have a safe and secure working environment, there are very strong business drivers to ensure that you keep your staff well protected at all times.
Take a moment to think about your best employees – for example, your best sales executive – and how important they are to your business. It might be clear cut how vital this person is, but now think about all your other employees – if you lost their productivity would you be able to continue your business? If not, you need to seriously consider how you can assure yourself that their security is properly governed.
When it comes to your family, things become even more important and it is also worth thinking about the family for your key personnel as well. We have discussed Tiger Kidnappings in the past and across large parts of the world, this form of extorting businesses has massively increased. This is something you need to consider for all your employees, but high profile executives will always be the primary target.
The process of identifying and managing the risks around the people important to you and your organisation is always complicated and there are many factors you need to consider. To help start the process we have a rough guide of things that should be considered but please keep in mind that this is only a guide and should never be used in place of specialised advice and a dedicated risk assessment.
- Securing your staff at work. Workplace violence is a very real threat that affects every business. The most obvious examples are where your employees are in contact with distressed or intoxicated members of the public (hospitals, bar staff, hotels and the like), but you should also consider the risks from the public in general and the risks of violence between employees. Some examples of risks in this category are hotel receptionists at night faced with drunken guests; retail shop staff managing tills risking robbery; street cleaners encountering criminal behaviour; staff covering twilight shifts in 24 hour shops face violent and aggressive customers etc.
- Securing your staff while they travel on business. This is another area where you have a legal obligation to make sure your employees are properly protected as well as it being good business sense. We’ve covered keeping your staff secure abroad previously, but it is worth returning to the issue here. When you ask an employee, even a well travelled one, to go abroad on business it is critical that you ensure they are properly prepared. Business travel is rarely the same as recreational travel and the threats that your employees face are radically different. As business travel is normally quite ostentatious (better class flights, limousines, dress etc), the business traveller is more likely to be seen as a target by local criminals.
- Securing your staff while they travel on holiday. This is often forgotten but it is worth ensuring that your employees and family, especially key executives or high profile employees are cared for even when they are travelling for their own purposes. This isn’t blurring the line between your employees work and social time, but it is a case of realising that accidents and crime occur on holidays and the knock on impact to your business can be critical. At the most basic level it is worth providing your staff with basic travel safety advice (such as that found on the FCO website) along with reminders about good practice abroad – covering things like how to reduce the risk of crime, what to do if it happens and so on. At the more extreme end it is worth considering developing a policy over how your organisation will react to possible incidents abroad to help guide decisions in high stress situations. Rare, but high stakes examples include things like having a high profile executive kidnapped for ransom while on holiday; having several business critical employees travel on the same holiday and be involved in an accident and so on.
It is important to remember that some of these events may well be very rare, but failing to have suitable plans in place means that if they do happen, the impact will be significantly greater. It is far better to put together plans and structures that you never need than to be caught out and unable to react.
Remember, there is a legal, moral and business obligation to make sure that you take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of your staff – if you do this well, you will reap the benefits of happier, more productive employees and the assurance that you are well placed to deal with potentially horrific scenarios.
If you want to know more about personnel security, for your staff, your friends or your family, then get in touch and we can discuss the issues either on a general level, of if it is suitable for you circumstances we can provide tailored specialist advice.