Training Communicates COVID-19 Safety and Security in the New Workplace

We’ve all become familiar with the term the “new normal” because of the impact COVID-19 has had on our society and on our businesses. As people gradually return to their workplaces, they will find many changes as organizations ask them to adjust their behavior and expectations—and patience—to ensure safety in the new work environment, built in response to the global health crisis.

So, how do you acclimate your employees to the new workplace? Training, the most proven and trusted methodology, serves as the primary instrument for communicating critical post-coronavirus workplace information, such as safety and security procedural changes, to your employees. Because this public health crisis is unprecedented, many workers are anxious about the future and concerned they or someone they care about will contract this disease. Training can inform employees about the preventative measures you’ve implemented to protect them, educate them about risks and how to improve their safety at work and home, and make them aware of resources available to support them.

As the crisis moves from the response to recovery phase, businesses need to prepare people for their return well before they take their first step back into the workplace. You can accomplish this by communicating your training, education, and awareness information through virtual forums like webinars and videos to educate your employees on preventative measures, including social distancing and sanitization, as well as reactive procedures, such as quarantining and contact tracing.

Because security is more important than ever in the post-pandemic workplace, you can protect your employees by responding to this emergency as you would other incidents—by maximizing your security protocols. You’ll create a safer and more secure workplace when you take special care to design your security environment using best practices in physical, procedural, technical, and personnel security—and incorporating the unique measures that COVID demands.

Organizations will need to adapt their workplace by identifying COVID-19 symptoms, requiring face coverings, implementing personal hygiene requirements, and ensuring proper social distancing. The new workplace will incorporate unprecedented practices including, among others, temperature screening, COVID-19 testing, antibody testing, health questionnaires, and barring people who have tested positive or who have come in contact with someone who tested positive from the workplace for 14 days. When you clearly and consistently communicate safety information, employees will feel safe, secure, informed, and prepared when they return to work—and you can thank your comprehensive training program for that.

Physical Security Measures
The new workplace will incorporate hand sanitizers, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), hand washing areas, and surface disinfectants. You can also consider physical modifications such as reducing the number of access points, increasing the distance between workspaces, communicating procedures with signage, instituting one-way directional paths, installing plexiglass, and limiting elevator occupancy.

Policy and Procedure Modifications
The safe and secure post-pandemic workplace will reflect procedural changes such as limiting on-site personnel to only essential individuals, staggering work shifts and days, prohibiting employees from sharing equipment like laptops and headsets, and decreasing occupancy capacities for workplaces.
You’ll also need to consider modifying current policies to communicate COVID-19 protocols to visitors, including clients, contractors, suppliers, vendors, and delivery personnel, such as limiting the number of visitors, controlling visitor access to restricted areas, and providing escorts for the duration of the visit. In addition, your policy should clearly state that employees have a responsibility for reporting concerns to management and maintaining compliance with company as well as local, state, and federal agency guidelines.

Technical Solutions
Security technologies will play an important role as organizations implement virtual training to educate the workforce on what to expect when they return. Your training can outline how your employees will enter the building using contactless biometric access control systems such as fingerprint matching, retina scanning, and facial recognition to help avoid bottle necking and maintain social distancing. Training will also educate them about how contact tracing technologies, such as Bluetooth devices, global positioning systems (GPS), and card readers, record location and proximity to trace infected personnel to further protect them. Organizations can also train their workforce regarding manual contact tracing that incorporates sign-in sheets, work schedules, shift logs, and time and attendance documents. Employees, security, and management all have a vital role to play in your safe and secure workplace.

As many organizations are operating with a combination of remote and on-site employees, your workforce must understand that the new workplace extends to the home. More people than ever before are working from their residences or quarantined, and employers need to prepare for an increase in mental health issues as well as domestic violence. Accordingly, employee assistance programs (EAPs) have seen a spike in requests for mental health resources and domestic violence hotlines have experienced an increase in calls. Virtual training allows employees to train from their homes and can increase awareness about COVID-19-related and workplace violence safety and security measures.

What does your training curriculum include? Do you offer virtual sessions to communicate the most critical information to your employees—namely how to keep them safe and secure so they can be happy and productive? You can also consider addressing these topics in your best-in-class curriculum: clinical and work-life support services for employees and their families, policies and procedures that address workplace violence and support victims of domestic violence, and enhanced new policies that focus on access control, work from home, and OSHA requirements such as Duty of Care. Your training curriculum can further protect your employees at home and at work by focusing on workplace violence mitigation, threat assessment, active shooter response, and return to work protocols.

We’re Here to Help
The Lake Forest Group is committed to protecting your employees. We can help you determine next steps to create or enhance your safe and secure workplace, especially as employees return to your businesses or continue to remain at home. Contact Mike Verden at [email protected] or 312.515.8747 to discuss whatever is on your mind in a free 30-minute consultation and together we can create a strategy that supports and prioritizes your employees.


It’s Time to Focus on Your Employees’ Mental Health and Security Needs

We’ve all heard about the “new normal” as states are opening up. But what does that mean? 

It depends on your responsibility in the organization. If you’re in HR or Security, you know as employees begin returning to the workplace, you face many challenges: putting physical barriers in place to ensure social distancing, modifying or creating policies and procedures that address safety and security concerns due to COVID-19, supporting a workforce that is dealing with unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety, and creating a culture of wellness at your organization, among others.

The organizations that top the Best Places to Work lists understand that employees who feel safe, secure, and cared for are happier and more productive–whether they’re working from home or at the workplace. These companies provide numerous resources to improve their employees’ experience at work and to ensure their well-being as they face the challenges of life, both professionally and personally. What have your employees been feeling for the last several months, as they’ve had to face, with virtually no notice, the disruptions from COVID-19?

Some employees could be dealing with loss of child care and the accompanying home schooling responsibilities, intensified alcohol or drug dependency, increased anxiety due to a spouse’s job loss or their overall reaction to the uncertainty of their own situation, and the tragic death of a loved one, whether to COVID-19 or some other illness.

Security professionals are concerned about these types of stressors every day, and, with the added uncertainty and anxiety caused by the pandemic, that concern only intensifies. When employees are dealing with life stressors in their personal lives, they bring those stressors to work, which experts tell us can lead to incidents of workplace violence—from harassment and verbal abuse to physical altercations and active shooter incidents.

Domestic violence is also a factor in incidents of workplace violence. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men will experience some form of intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime. The enormity of that statistic compounded with recent stay-at-home measures gives you an indication of how many of your people could be further traumatized by staying in an unsafe home for months with an abuser. Accordingly, domestic violence hotlines have experienced an increase in calls during the pandemic.

A recent article in Employee Benefits News (EBN) through partnership with the National Behavioral Consortium (NBC) discussed the importance of mental health services and resources. “We see work-life services as a prevention and early intervention tool,” says Stacie Westhouse-Milam, LPC, Vice President of Operations for Perspectives LTD, an employee assistance program (EAP) provider and fellow Chicago SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) member. “Everyday life issues can be precursors to more serious behavioral or medical problems. By recognizing the problem early, we can provide the appropriate counseling and address the issue before it spins out of control.”

Your employees depend on you to ensure a safe and secure workplace where they can do their best work. Begin your pandemic-related safety, security, and well-being initiatives by asking a security professional to conduct a needs assessment that identifies what you have and what you need.

  • Do you have an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides a variety of clinical and work-life support services for your employees and their families? 
  • Do your policies and procedures address workplace violence and support victims of domestic violence?
  • Have you created or enhanced new policies that focus on access control, work from home, OSHA requirements such as Duty of Care and recently released Guidance on Returning to Work, etc.? 
  • Do you have a Threat Assessment Team (TAT) to identify behavioral indicators of employees on a pathway to violence, tools for the assessment of threats and violence risk, intervention strategies, and relevant threat assessment research and statistics? 
  • Does your training curriculum include workplace violence mitigation, threat assessment, active shooter response, return to work protocols, and other measures to protect your employees on a daily basis and in an emergency?

Your EAP, HR, and Security teams can work together to ensure you are doing all you can to support your employees. Now more than ever during these challenging times, your employees need to feel safe and secure at work.

We’re Here to Help

You are committed to protecting your employees. We can help you determine next steps to create or enhance your safe and secure workplace, especially as employees return to your businesses or continue to remain at home. Contact Mike at [email protected] or 312.515.8747 to discuss whatever is on your mind in a free 30-minute consultation and together we can create a strategy that supports and prioritizes your employees.home. 


Welcome To Safe University (SAFE U)!

YOUR PARTNER IN CAMPUS SECURITY

Safe UniversityWhen the safety of your people is one of your top priorities and your college’s reputation is one of your most valuable assets, you’ll do whatever it takes to provide a safe environment for your students, staff, and visitors. High profile incidents such as mass shootings and sexual attacks at several universities have put the topic of campus crime in the public eye today more than ever before.

Conscientious and well-informed university personnel know that adequate staffing, multi-disciplinary involvement, sufficient resources, appropriate policies, and external support make these incidents less likely to occur—and make leaders more prepared if they do. Safe University (Safe U) partners with you to supplement and enhance your existing security programs by tailoring best practices to your unique situation and campus culture

HOW SAFE U BENEFITS YOUR SCHOOL AND YOUR PEOPLE
Safe U partners with you to create a safe campus environment by ensuring current policies, procedures, personnel, physical measures, technology, and training are at an industry best practice level. Through coordination and integration for preventative security, emergency preparedness, and incident response, Safe U identifies the steps necessary to ensure that students, faculty, visitors, family members, guests, and friends are not exposed to harm.
Our Safe U program specifically tailors best practices in these areas to your unique environment:
• Processes: policies, procedures, plans, and programs
• Personnel: management, police, public safety, and security
• Technology: cameras, access control, alarms, notifications, and call/assistance station boxes
• Emergency preparedness: weather, fire, power, and intruder
• Education awareness and training: classes, exercises, and web-based
• Event planning and management: school-sponsored functions
• Background screening and drug testing: scope, pre- and post-employment
• Physical security: fences, gates, barriers, lighting, and locks
• Regulatory compliance: Title IX, Violence Against Women Act, and Clery Act
PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE, CAMPUS AND BRAND BY BENCHMARKING WITH THE BEST

Studies show that although 86% of higher educational schools have an emergency operations plan, more than 1 in 4 have not had a hazard and vulnerability assessment to develop appropriate all-hazard emergency planning. We’ll share with you knowledge gained from safeguarding global corporations, high profile individuals, major events, and campuses around the country to protect what’s most important.

ADD ANOTHER LAYER OF SAFETY THROUGH SAFE U’S OBJECTIVE REVIEW

By providing objectivity through an independent analysis of your current resources, Safe U ensures a holistic security strategy by sharing the extensive expertise of our team. G. Michael Verden, CEO and Owner of The Lake Forest Group, is a global security expert with a distinguished 21-year career with the United States Secret Service. As a Special Agent, he served on the Presidential Protective Division, Dignitary Protective Division, and Counter Assault Team and assisted in the security and protection of facilities and people for major events, including the Olympics, Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, and the Women’s Soccer World Cup, among others. As Director of Security for the NBA, he supervised security for the NBA All-Star Game, NBA Finals, and World Basketball Championships. Mike will personally guide the Safe U program to assess and evaluate your current security needs and provide options to optimize your strategic security plan and emergency management plan.


The Impact of Domestic Violence in the Workplace

This blog is by guest writer, Mr. John Savas, who has more than 25 years of human resource experience in both corporate and consulting roles, and has worked with a variety of industries in public and private companies, family-owned businesses, and non-profit organizations.

Workplace Violence and Domestic Violence are Related

People often wonder why we talk about domestic violence in the same breath as workplace violence. After all, one happens at home and the other is usually some ticked off former employee who goes back to the office to wreak havoc, right? While the former employee scenario is just one of many types of workplace violence, other perpetrators of workplace violence include disgruntled employees, criminal outsiders, and those who have a personal relationship with the victim. This last one is normally characterized as domestic violence that spills over into the workplace with women at a higher risk of being victims of this type of violence.

The Numbers Do Not Lie  

Statistics tell us that one in four women is likely to be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. Consider the enormity of that statistic and then think about your own workplace. That means that virtually every business has women who have been, currently are, or will be victimized by a partner. In 2014, 7% of workplace homicides were a direct result of a personal relationship. It is so important for companies like yours to step up efforts as they relate to domestic violence. Aside from it being the right thing to do to protect your employees and provide them a safe and supportive environment in which to work, businesses are incurring significant costs as a direct result of domestic violence, above and beyond the effects of the actual violence that occurs at work.

Understanding the Health Issues of Workplace Violence

The cost of domestic violence for your business usually falls into one of two categories: health benefit costs and lost productivity. Let’s spend a moment talking about health benefit costs. Did you know that one in three women seen in an emergency room is there as a direct result of domestic violence? Health care costs for women of domestic violence are in excess of $2,000 more each year than those of other similarly situated women. And that estimate is based on the most extreme cases of physical and sexual assault. Less extreme examples such as mental, emotional, and verbal abuse also result in medical plan usage, but statistics are not readily available for these issues.

Lost Productivity from Absence and Abuse  

As for lost productivity, some conservative estimates put absenteeism for victims just over eight days per year, but once again, this only accounts for the most extreme cases of physical and sexual assault. And what about non-absentee lost productivity? Victims of domestic violence are distracted at work due to physical, mental, and emotional abuse.

Domestic Violence Mitigation in the Workplace     

Effective workplace violence policies can make a difference in the lives of the women who work in your organization in addition to creating a supportive workplace culture. Do your policies encourage open communication between employees and your organization? Do your employees feel that they can confide in you if they are experiencing threatening behavior at home without fear of retribution in the form of disciplinary action, lost wages, or possible termination?

When it’s all said and done, the costs to the company for domestic violence can be significant, whether it spills into the workplace or not. When was the last time you thoroughly reviewed your policies, outreach and support programs, and how you handle domestic violence in the workplace? We’re here to help.

Mr. John Savas has been exposed to virtually all areas within HR throughout his career and has been instrumental in the development and implementation of numerous workplace violence prevention and intervention programs, including domestic violence in the workplace. John speaks and trains frequently on topics such as performance management, leadership, harassment and discrimination, and workplace violence.