Workplace Security Plan: Does Your Company Have One?Written by Felix P. Nater
The Consultant's Perspective...
The threat of violence whether it emanates from a disgruntled employee or threat of terrorism require both a concerted and an individual response. Terrorism in any form is terrorism. Having been exposed to daily taunts, acts of intimidation, verbal threats of bodily harm are as debilitating psychologically as blunt strike or piercing bullet. Vigilance and security awareness makes for a good prescription. In previous writings, I've attempted to draw a correlation between disgruntled employee and terrorist from within by suggesting similar patterns of behavior, traits and characteristics coupled with freedom of access and possession of company’s secrets. My observations clearly implied a volatile ingredient worthy of skeptical assessment.
Following a recent article written by Louis Rovner, Ph.D, entitled “Protecting Your Company from Terrorism Within”, I grew more concerned. So,I interviewed him regarding article. Dr. Rovner is a psychologist in LA who consults to businesses, government agencies and law enforcement agencies, one of a handful of polygraph – psychologist nationwide. He believes that potential for disaster is at every employer’s doorstep and I agree with assessment. He said, “Thousands of Terrorist call United States home…hundreds of terrorist sleeper cells scattered throughout U.S. awaiting orders and instructions need to assimilate in order to survive”. What do they do? The thrust of this edition is a testimonial to existing synergy between Dr. Rovner and I on topic of workplace security as a legitimate discussion. I believe solution to minimization of any potential exposure is an aggressive but practical security plan which addresses workplace security issues in greater detail incorporating training and security awareness.
Now I would like to draw that necessary correlation between seamless similarities existing between “event driven” explosive conduct of “disgruntled employee” and “the Terrorist from within”. In an investigation I conducted several years ago an otherwise hard working employee with a diagnosed personality disorder was reassigned from his regular duties due to a medical determination. It was to have been a temporary change. However, during ensuing assignment he was exposed to constant abusive taunting and harassment by co-workers. In response he began retaliating in his own way, initially innocuously and eventually more aggressively. The verbal threats directed at co-workers and supervisors escalated to more hostile conduct. It was clear he was sending a message of his displeasure. While left alone at office computer terminal he began browsing Internet for bomb making sites. He had been engaged in this clandestine operation for several days before a sharp supervisor noticed his strange behavior at terminal. In an effort to protect evidence, he used a ruse to get employee away from terminal until my arrival. The subsequent interview of employee disclosed a pattern of hostile retaliatory conduct in response to a lack of confidence in management and his co-workers to protect him from abuse. His aggression escalated from verbal to near physical as he sought ways to avenge his tormentors.
You Really Safe…? Before we get into a technical discussion about potential Terror from within, we need to answer a few questions and remind you that problem lies well within your ability to manage. Do you know what to look for? Do you have a mechanism to address breeches of safety or security? Are your employees properly screened during hiring process? Is there a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy and Program and lastly, are employees receiving relevant training? If we acknowledge NO to any of these questions we have ability to take corrective action NOW. I know how resource intensive process can be, but you don’t have to go at it alone. Like disgruntled employee who is “event driven” Terrorist waits for event. In both cases, they are classic “sleepers” willing to hide their intentions until they are ready to act out. Linda Lockwood, PhD at Metropolitan State College, Denver, Colorado reminds us that workplace violence is obviously a serious problem that must be better understood in order to prevent its occurrences. I ask that we consider threat from within a bit more seriously by developing your security policy and plans to minimize your exposure.
Workplace Security and Corporate ResponsibilityWritten by Felix P. Nater
1. The Security Consultant's Perspective...
Workplace violence is a reality whether it happens at warehouse, plant, parking lot, hospital or treatment center, and office or while sitting in your car taking notes. It should not be swept under carpet. The average out of court civil suit settlement is in range of $300,000 to $500,000; jury rendered verdicts awarding $1 Million dollars plus. A clear reporting system should be implemented and all employees should be trained and encouraged to report all incident
Training and Security Awareness makes good sense. While all supervisors and managers should receive some form of orientation on Threat Assessment and Risk Management all employees should receive training also. Key to fair and equitable determination of an incident is total analysis of available information about participants, incident and environment. Knowledge of how to conduct a fact-finding investigation should be part of Threat Assessment Training for supervisors in determination of type of disciplinary action or deciding criminal prosecution. Companies wishing to gain a perspective of their workplace violence potential risks should begin with a security survey of all employees and environment. Training to assist employees in identifying warning signs of workplace violence and what steps to take to de-escalate incidents before eruption is next. Essential to a good workplace violence prevention program is policy and plan to deal with incidents. Unfortunately, some companies have paid little to no attention to implementation of asecurity policy and plans because, "We don't have a security problem here".
2. Are we really safe...
Linda Lockwood, PhD, Metropolitan State College of Denver says that workplace violence is obviously a serious problem that must be better understood in order to prevent its occurrence. Its cost to our society is measured in terms of dollars and human life. For instance, it's second greatest cause of death in workplace for men and first greatest cause of death for women (E. Gonzalez, Confronting workplace violence psychologist traces everyday causes, Rocky Mountain News, October, 1999). Recent headlines underscore reality that workplace violence is a phenomenon, which affects every institution and workplace, and that perpetrator is a microcosum of our society.
Nevertheless, we must guard against potential acts of violence by doing something; being aware, holding participants accountable and providing support services. Employee security checklist and opinion surveys are essential tools available to security consultant to assist in assessment and evaluation process. They will tell you that lights in parking lot are not working, that they feel insecure visiting clients or patients alone or that a reduced hospital staff on weekends leaves hospital security short of staff. Preparation will help to minimize injury and risk of fatalities.
3. What studies show...
In addition to disgruntled employee which, is greatest security threat to workplace or mentally ill worker, business practices also are potential contributors to a hostile workplace. A supervisor aware of a disgruntled employee can't afford to discipline him or her because, loss might have an adverse affect on efficiency and performance. Environmental changes to improve security measures are too costly and changes are not needed. While employees are often victims of their jobs, positions and contact with public, job stress and personal distresses are real factors that increase likelihood of workplace violence. A theory of workplace violence and aggression is that an "individual's cognitive appraisal" of a situation can create more severe affective reactions and potentially aggressive behaviors in situations that may not call for heightened responses". In other words, some people may create a "mountain out of a mole hole", because of way they unrealistically interpret their situation.