Employees demand security…as long as they aren’t inconvenienced

by todaystrainingblog

Can anyone out there say knee-jerk reaction to an incident? It really doesn’t matter if it is only a financial loss or if the specter of workplace violence (WPV) raises its ugly hideous head and, unfortunately, someone happens to get injured or killed. No matter what it may be, there will be a knee-jerk over reaction to it from the c-suite or employees.

And we as security professionals are caught in the middle of it all, whether we want to be or not! We have been for a long time, especially at the field level, the red headed step child, whipping boy/girl, runt of the litter…and any other adjectives and phrases you can think of. We get the blame for it all.

If it doesn’t work and something is lost…it’s our fault. If someone ignores the safety/security protocols…it’s our fault. If someone hacks into the corporate network…it’s our fault. If something happens to go right and we actually stop an incident…it’s the C-suite that soaks up the accolades.

Times are a changin, but we are still stuck in that mentality. Everyone in the company, including vendors, visitors, and so on, want excellent security. However, if they are inconvenienced… then they don’t want to be bothered with any of it. It’s a hassle, slows them down, can’t finish their work, can’t do this & can’t do that.

The biggest example of this that I can think of is directly after September 11, 2001. That day was so overwhelming to the country and its citizens. Staring at the stark horror of the Twin Towers being stabbed, burned alive, and finally falling into a huge pile of rubble.

Security companies across the country were fielding requests for services, both new & add-on’s to current contracts, in an overwhelming deluge of phone calls. At First Response, Inc. in Mission, KS. We turned down more than 4,000 hours of billable hours because even with 84 hour weeks for everyone we couldn’t do it effectively or efficiently. We did accept an extra 500 hours of coverage for existing clients only, no new ones. Then the inevitable happened. Within 6 months, employees began complaining about the added security measures and the inconvenience.

When 6 months earlier they were stressed out and had such high anxiety about a possible terrorist attack at work they became complacent again and didn’t want security around. It was helped along by the owners, corporate boards, and others who were tired of paying such a high bill rate, which was by necessity overtime.

It continues today. Employees want a safe & secure place to work, and as employers it’s our obligation to give that to them. However, they don’t want any security that interferes with their ‘enjoyment’ of activities such as web surfing, opening phishing e-mails, on-line shopping, leaving early or arriving late, taking home 2 X 4’s, propping the door open for a smoke break, allowing people whom they don’t know into the building, and other such security breaches.

So the knee-jerk reactions continue and it is nothing but show. Far too many times, companies will make a show of increased security to placate the employees and anyone else who may be watching them. Then as soon as the news dies down the, possibly extra, security is gone.

If it was a real show of protecting company assets, which does include their employees, they would keep the security at the same level at all times, except in extreme circumstances. But they don’t, it is at the whim of those who prepare budgets and want to show sensitivity and compassion to frightened employees.

And while there is nothing wrong with showing your employees compassion &sensitivity, it must be genuine concern. It’s just like the scene in ‘Blazing Saddles’ 43 years ago when the townspeople constructed a fake town for the railroad to run them out of. It’s fake and intelligent people can see right through the façade, despite what upper management wants the employees to believe.

And employees who say they are frightened and have anxiety about something possibly happening at their facility? It’s practically as fake. Very few people have the instability to be that frightened or have that level of anxiety over the remote possibility of an incident of any kind.

As security professionals, how do we increase security and keep everyone happy from the C-suite to the front line employees? Unfortunately it’s a matter for creep. No matter what the situation may be and how quickly increased security needs to be implemented you have to take the frog in boiling water trick to it.

If you don’t recognize that reference, then it is fairly simple to explain creep this way. If you place a frog in a pot of tepid water that is comfortable for it and then turn on the burner. The frog will not try to escape as the water temperature increases at an ever so slight rate. Until it is too late and it is truly, and literally, cooked.

And even then you’ll still have the arguments that I outlined above. It is important to note that few people in this world appreciate the risks that we live with every single day. And not even all security professionals recognize it either which is unfortunate for everyone involved.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

                    I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear