From economic shifts and disruptions to workplace practices and culture, today’s corporations are juggling time, attention and resources. Fortifying the safety and security of our employees ranks high among these priorities.
The good news is that 79% of employees feel safe at work, according to a Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey Report released by Motorola Solutions. However, sentiments about safety are shifting given workplace violence, severe weather, mental health concerns and an influx of active assailant incidents.
Lead for today
As leaders, one of the best ways that we can alleviate anxieties in the workplace is by taking proactive steps to inform staff about facility security systems emergency management guidelines; the different notification modalities that will be used before, during and after crisis events; and how policies and responsibilities are transitioned when key personnel leave and new employees onboard.
This top-down transparency will help to lessen employee angst and empower staff to take an active role in their own safety.
Assess preparedness across the spectrum
As with most areas of business, establishing a culture of safety begins with an honest and thorough assessment of current practices and changing workplace dynamics. To that end, today’s leaders are asking the following safety-centric questions and making keen observations:
- Technologies: Are my building security systems up to date? With employees returning to the office, now is the perfect time to assess building ingress and egress points. Consider whether video security and access control solutions that detect unusual activity could alleviate the burden on security staff by allowing them to watch live video feeds and better detect threats.
- Personnel: Does my company have a dedicated safety officer who meets regularly with the executive team? Is that person equipped to establish protocols, educate staff, conduct drills regularly, capture key data points and report to leaders periodically? In addition to establishing expectations for security staff, is our human resources team prepared to fill gaps when essential contributors leave the company and when new employees join our ranks?
- Integrated response: Does our company have an integrated approach to safety and security and a proactive emergency management strategy? Safety is a system – thus the reason why preparation is essential and proactive collaboration between corporate decision makers, 911 and first responders is so critical. Emergency management is different from business continuity. Both are preemptive in nature, but emergency preparedness plans call for safety strategies when fires, natural disasters, acts of violence and cyber security breaches occur – strategies that help to safeguard people and property. Business continuity efforts focus on the contingency plans that allow our organization to operate if disaster strikes or when smaller disruptions such as floods and power failures occur.
- Communications: Are we still using dated methods including telephone trees, the intranet and landlines to communicate in the midst of chaos instead of tools that seamlessly and swiftly connect key stakeholders? Best practices call for an integrated crisis management notification approach that has been defined and refined long before an emergency occurs.
- Operational efficiencies: Have we automated our workflow and reporting solutions for optimal outcomes? For example, do our employees have a digital way to report suspicious behaviors? Personal safety apps or panic buttons can be utilized for convenient two-way communications throughout an emergency event.
- Incident overlap: Is our company prepared to balance emergency response and recovery simultaneously? How will we ensure that employees are accounted for, medical and mental health resources are lined up, reunification efforts are successful and business operations resume in a timely manner? Businesses often focus on preparedness and incident command, but the recovery phase tends to be what stymies executives most.
- Pathways forward: How will our leadership team debrief? Do we have data to inform our decisions? Once an emergency has been resolved, we, as business leaders, need to determine what worked and update plans accordingly.
When employees know that there are systems and strategies in place for the benefit of their personal safety, it makes a world of difference.
Document and practice a culture of safety
Fifty-eight percent of the Workplace Safety and Preparedness survey respondents said that they would like to attend training centered around emergency response and 49% wanted to receive safety updates via regularly scheduled emails.
The notion of knowledge being power is not lost on our employees. We can arm our staff with information by creating a digital, centralized hub with emergency protocols and safety guidelines. We can work with human resources and management to ensure that there are no gaps in safety when key contributors leave the company or new employees are hired. We can share company safety guidance as part of a regular communications cadence via employees’ preferred channels to help build that all-important muscle matter.
Safety is not a one-and-done task. It is an intrinsic part of a company’s DNA. By cultivating a culture of safety and investing in the right technologies, executives can foster a safe working environment and ensure that business is kept on track.