Criminal activity and violence can assume almost any form. In fact, it is limited only by the imagination. Violence and crime most often invoke images of the stereotypical street thug or the professional criminal, but criminal activity is not so predictable. In real life, the criminal may be a stranger, but they may also be a co-worker, an estranged spouse or lover, or someone you considered a friend. In fact, the US Department of Labor has previously cited workplace violence as the number one cause of death for women at the workplace and the number two cause for men. Against such a versatile adversary, there is no security system or combination of systems that can guarantee your business will be crime free. Still, there are steps we can all take to help minimize opportunities for crime and workplace violence.
- Design your office to help direct ingress and egress through the main reception area and maintain staff at the receptionist desk during all business hours. Many thieves prey on the busy office environment, entering through a side entrance, moving unnoticed through the office, and making their exit with items taken from desktop and purses. In other cases, they proceed past an empty receptionist desk, steal from the first few offices, and leave totally unnoticed.
- Keep valuables and confidential information in secure locations. Confidential documents should be shredded prior to discarding. Imprint valuable equipment with an identification number or tag.
- Educate and train employees to report any suspicious activity. Threats, regardless of the circumstances, should always be taken seriously. Similarly, company policies and procedures should clearly communicate the seriousness of violence or threatened violence and clearly state that such actions are grounds for immediate termination.
- When downsizing or terminating employees, take reasonable precautions. Any termination should be handled with sensitivity, but prior to allowing the employee to leave the office, you should be certain to retain all work-related keys, identification badges or cards, and any access cards. In some cases, you may wish to change keying systems and/or change security codes on any electronic entry devices. Notify the Property Manager of the building that a termination has occurred, provide a description of the employee, and relay any concerns you may have regarding their state of mind, threats that may have been made, and your assessment regarding the potential for a reprisal.
- Train managers to watch for warning signs. Employees exhibiting wide mood swings, suspected of alcohol or drug abuse, or boasting about weapons or previous acts of violence.
- Exercise good hiring practices. Many companies, for example, now utilize drug-testing programs. Criminal background checks and reference checks with previous employers and educational institutions may provide further insights into an applicant's background and character.
- Ask co-workers or on-site security (if available) to accompany you to your vehicle when departing work after normal business hours.