Growing up in a small town I had so many advantages regarding personal freedom. Looking back, I can never remember searching for the car keys because they were always in the car’s ignition, whether it was parked at home, or in the grocery store parking lot. Not locking the doors and the windows to the house was another example of how we lived. I also remember walking back and forth to kindergarten through third grade, by myself.
I cannot help but notice that there are now security guards (sometimes local police) walking the halls of our schools. The same goes for churches and retail stores. If one were to visit the homes of five different people, there is a good chance you will find not only a home security system but one with motion detectors and cameras. That sounds like the bank I used to do business with while growing up rather than a home.
So why do we have Security at our workplace? Is Security there to change a flat car tire, or jump start the car? Not hardly (although they really help in a pinch)! Security is there to secure the resources of the company, which includes its employees. Some additional areas where security provides its expertise is in theft, intellectual property, cyber security, violence in the workplace, support during natural disasters, acting as the general eyes and ears of the organization, and maintaining the company’s goodwill in the marketplace. Security personnel have a huge job, especially the folks that are armed.
I have recognized similar paradigms after having led several security departments at the site level. They include the following:
- It is perceived to be cheaper to outsource security than to hire full time equivalents.
- Pay security as little as possible (you typically get what you pay for).
- Routinely rotate them in and out of the company.
- Do not give them the ability to lead or to take advanced training.
For some companies, this model might work, but for others it is outdated, and ineffective. Consider, if the same model was followed in other functions throughout an organization, how successful would the company be?
Security departments are up against an environment where people and technology are progressing so rapidly that it is difficult to keep up. One thought that strikes me is how there is more information about people and their backgrounds now, than ever before, yet in many instances employees with poor backgrounds are hired into the business. This goes for whether they are temporary or full time equivalents. Today, it seems as though people/employees are willing to push the limits of their behavior even further, which requires greater vigilance on the company’s part. Is it because the short-term payoff is better now than it was in the good old days, or is it because of a person’s or employee’s level of desperation?
Almost all of the issues discussed above can be addressed by leadership’s decision to proactively change the business’ and site security culture prior to a catastrophe. This is not to say that if there was an unlimited amount of resources available that breaches in security would not happen. I was once told, that you achieve the level of quality that you demonstrate that you want to achieve (change out quality for security). If leadership is truly impassioned to adequately address security measures in the organization, then the leadership will work to enlighten employees and get them involved to grow the security culture, provide the necessary resources to attract and retain the best talent money can buy (within security and the greater organization, and set the highest expectations for security).
The reason I am so impassioned about this subject is because when an active shooter or a saboteur perpetrates a crime, it will have a huge and lasting impact on the business and the people involved. Albeit a potentially low frequency, the severity of the impact is massive. It could include some or all of the following: shock, damage/injury, and potentially deaths. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), of the 4,679 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2014, 403 were workplace homicides.
Another reason I spoke on this subject is because almost all the organizations I have been in contact with (leadership and employees alike), do not believe it will ever happen to them, so they seem to avoid dealing with safety and security issues.
Contact me, Edward Ballo, at e3s Consulting regarding your company’s or industry’s workplace security. Call 501-749-0912 or contact me online.