When an employee is threatened, stalked or assaulted, who is the likely person they will first turn to for protection at the workplace? Usually, it’s the most visible defender of an organization – the security professional. Their role in responding to workplace threats is invaluable, and essential to establishing and maintaining a safe workplace for all employees.
In addition to responding to threats in the workplace, security professionals are also a critical part of the team that works to create safety protocols and procedures that help prevent workplace violence. Working together with HR, executive leadership and other key stakeholders, security professionals provide specialized and expert guidance on issues such as access control, crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and coordination with local law enforcement.
But, what if there are even further steps that can enhance the security professional’s role and help broaden their influence with regard to workplace violence prevention? Specifically, what can prepare the security professional (and the organization) to see something, and say something, and do something before something bad happens, and as a result, potentially prevent a violent incident from occurring.
Input from the American National Standard
The role of the security professional is specifically addressed in the American National Standard on Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention (ASIS and SHRM, 2011). This standard specifies that security staff should be part of the organization’s planning, implementation and management of workplace violence prevention programs.
Specifically, the Standard indicates that security professionals can provide practical recommendations as part of the team looking to update an organization’s policies, procedures and safety protocols. Issues such as physical security strategies, pre-employment background screening and investigations, security or safety incident reporting, incident response and management, liaison with law enforcement and other first responders, and post-incident recovery techniques are all areas where it is important that security professionals be both knowledgeable and experienced.
With that in mind, following are some additional suggested steps to enhancing the role of the security pro:1. Establish a good working relationship with your Human Resources Director. Some areas to consider:
- Ask what you can do to help them with onboarding new employees or terminating problematic employees.
- How can you assist in pre-employment background screening?
- How can the security department assist in workplace investigations?
- Ask to be notified in advance of a pending termination. The time to be notified is not one hour (or less) before the termination meeting begins.
- Offer ideas about how you can be helpful in the planning and management of these situations.
- Does your organization have a workplace violence prevention policy in place? Does it “dovetail” with other policies addressing conduct and ethics, substance use/abuse, sexual harassment?
- Are there multiple avenues for an employee to report problematic behaviors or threats?
- What are your responsibilities?
- Does your organization have a Threat Management Team in place to address these reports?
- How can you establish and train a Threat Management Team? The American National Standard is an excellent resource to help start these discussions.
- Consider conducting a security risk assessment of your organization. (A true assessment is more than just “lights, bushes and locks”).
- How can you detect if a potential intruder is researching and planning an attack?
- Are security officers trained in detecting (and responding to) hostile surveillance? A good resource on this topic is Surveillance Zone by Ami Toben.
- Where could a violent intruder penetrate the perimeter?
- What will be your response if an intruder shows up on the property?
4. Educate yourself on Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). ASIS is the premier organization for security professionals. Go to asisonline.org for an extensive offering on this and other security-related topics.
Consider these items as a starting point for a more detailed analysis of the security professional’s role in preventing workplace violence. What other steps can you take to be proactive?