At first glance, the phrase “business security” may seem cut and dry, but a comprehensive business security solution is anything but simple. Forget the complexities of design and the nuances of installation; an all-encompassing security system must address a myriad of threats that face the average business, including (but not limited to):
- External property threats
- Fire and environmental disasters
- Internal property threats
- Access issues arising from foot traffic logistics
Protecting from these threats only becomes more difficult with each added complication: is your business open to the public? Does your office accommodate occasional visitors or guests? Does your business contain sensitive materials or documents which should be viewed only by specific individuals? Does your business have multiple shifts or operate 24/7? Securing a business from the threats that face it can get messy fast, but fret not: a well-rounded security solution can be obtained by understanding what your business needs protection from—and with a little help from a professional security provider.
In this series of posts, we’ll more closely examine individual categories of threats that face your business—and what you can do to bolster the security of your facilities.
Any business with an actual physical facility—office spaces, warehouses, storefronts—will see some combination of employees, customers and solicitors, and disgruntled or former employees entering, interacting within, and subsequently exiting the building over the course of any given business day. In earlier blog entries in this series, surveillance cameras have been singled out as an excellent method of keeping an eye on the goings-on of those within your facility. However, depending on the size of your business, live monitoring the actions of dozens or even hundreds of workers and customers may simply not be feasible. While the vast majority of people coming into your place of work are well-intentioned, the select few who are not can wreak havoc on your flow of business and endanger both your bottom line and the very lives of your employees.
Employees are supposed to have access to your business—just not unfettered access. You, as the business owner, manager, or operator, would likely need access to every room on every floor. A warehouse floor worker may need access to the lobby and the warehouse but not the office area; a cashier may need access to the retail floor but not the inventory room.
Simply telling employees to “stay in their lanes” and putting “authorized personnel only” signs up won’t deter a determined individual from committing employee theft. An in-depth analysis of the reasons employees commit theft against their employer are included in the third part in this series. To summarize, motivations include:
- Need. An unexpected expense or change in income may leads employees to consider taking money that isn’t theirs.
- Anger. A disgruntled employee may lash out at their employer or take what they feel they “deserve.”
- Opportunity. If an employee knows they can get away with stealing due to a lack of supervision or security precautions, the knowledge that they could make off with product or cash and get away with it may prove too tempting.
Uncontrolled employee access to product and cash is a major security red flag, especially since it can be committed by everyone from entry-level workers to supervisors and managers. With an annual price tag of $50 billion dollars, employee theft can wreak havoc on business operations if left unchecked.
It’s not just inventory and money that require protection. Sensitive data should be safe from anyone unauthorized—including employees. Furthermore, certain personal documents included in HR personnel files are necessary—depending on your state, sometimes by law—to remain under lock and key and away from prying eyes.
Free-for-all access also poses a risk for employees themselves. If a business houses hazardous chemicals, works in a medical or chemical laboratory, or work with dangerous equipment on an assembly line or in a manufacturing plant, allowing unauthorized employees to enter these areas can result in chemicals, contagions, or other undesirable materials being spilled or spread. Additionally, accidents with equipment could result in injury or even death for an inattentive or untrained employee who finds themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. In 2019 alone, 5,333 fatal injuries occurred on the job—the highest amount of workplace fatalities since 2007.
Guests and solicitors
Managing employee access to your facility is only half the trouble with human logistics. Most businesses contain some amount of customers, solicitors, vendors, or other guests that make their way through the front doors on an average business day. Keeping an eye on customers around product and merchandise is already a strenuous task; preventing them from entering employee-only or even dangerous areas is a job unto itself. Between customers getting lost, taking inventory, or even getting injured—setting you up for a lawsuit—keeping customers confined to their proper spaces is a priority for any business owner.
But not every guest will be a customer. Most companies deal with vendors or business partners who help keep the machine running smoothly. These guests may be afforded more access to the “behind the scenes” spaces in a business. Even for business partners and solicitors that are well-known within a company, keeping said guests confined to reception areas, conference rooms, or other “approved” spaces can be a headache, especially without an actual human being to guide them through the business and keep them out of sensitive, off-limit areas.
Disgruntled and former employees
Former employees form a unique risk to a business. A former employee would know the ins-and-outs of a business better than any customer or solicitor and would likely have spent some time focusing on the best ways to exploit security vulnerabilities and cause maximum disruption on their way out the door. Those responsible within an organization for terminating employees face unique challenges in both minimizing the chance an employee causes a business or its employees harm on their way out the door and alerting the rest of the company that said worker is no longer employed. Existing employees who are not duly notified of a termination may happily grant a former coworker access out of ignorance of their firing. Even employees who are aware of a termination may find themselves intimidated into accommodating a former employee who wants to gain access to a facility or may respond positively to a compassionate appeal.
Disgruntled employees are at a higher likelihood to leave in a whirlwind of discontent. A quick Google of “disgruntled employee” pulls up news results for a manager wrestling a gun away from an angry employee, an employee who caused $135,000 dollars in damage with a hammer, and another firearm-related incident at a Connecticut business. Alarmingly, homicide is the third highest cause of death in workplaces, with many of these instances directly related to disgruntled or former employees lashing out against their supervisors and coworkers. Of these fatal incidences, 80% were committed with a firearm. The tendency of these perpetrators to view such attacks as a suicidal “final act” can increase the scope and impact of their violence, with the employee taking their anger out on coworkers completely unrelated to their initial grievances.
Creating, enforcing, and abiding by strict company policies regarding employee, guest, and former employee access is the first step in creating a safe environment for everyone within your business. However, even stringent, liberally enforced policies are likely to be broken by those intent on doing harm. Card access and integrated intercom systems are cornerstones of any business security solution and, when used consistently, can help control who goes where and when within your business every hour of every day.
A card access system is an electronic upgrade to the age-old “lock and key” physical security solution. While crafting and subsequently keeping track of keys can become a logistical and security nightmare, a card access system allows for unique cards and key fobs to be easily activated or deactivated depending on the situation. Magnetic locks secure the door until an authorized card scan is initiated, providing a highly secure physical barrier between your business and the world outside.
The electronic card readers allow for verified users to scan a card or fob to gain access to an otherwise locked door. Because each card can be programmed individually, a card access administrator can determine which employees can have access to certain areas. The customization options inherent to a card access system allow for a business owner to be granted access to every location within their business but a warehouse worker to be restricted strictly to the warehouse. This limits the potential for employee theft, minimizing the potential for work-related accidents, and protecting sensitive documents and data by granting access only to authorized personnel.
The ability to quickly deactivate key fobs can reduce the chances of former employees making their way back into the building. The feature can also help control the flow of vendors and other guests on any given business day. By creating a “guest card” and granting it permissions only for the common areas of a building, the administrator of the card access system can corral visitors into specific spaces and even deactivate cards—returned or not—at the end of the day to prevent unwanted repeat use.
- Set door schedules to reflect unique/holiday hours.
- Track usage of employees at specific doors and specific times.
- Limit permissions for each individual employee.
- Control multiple buildings from a single hub.
- Initiate emergency lockdowns.
This final point—initiating lockdowns—is an essential feature of a card access system. In the event of a chemical spill or an incident of workplace violence, the doors to a certain area (or the entire facility) can be temporarily shut down to avoid contamination of other areas or to limit the mobility of a violent perpetrator.
Intercom systems work in synergy with a card access system. While “push the button and hear a voice” systems such as those in apartment complexes are still used, recent innovations in technology have led to the prolific use of video intercom systems. Companies such as Aiphone® allow designated controllers—often receptionists or administrative assistants—to communicate via voice and video with a guest attempting to gain access to the outside of a facility. While card access systems can grant previously approved personnel access to a facility, intercoms are excellent additions to offices, schools, and other businesses who are likely to see unauthorized (but still welcome) guests during the day and require a means to vet them. With an integrated card access and intercom system solution installed in your business, both external access points and internal traffic can be managed in a matter conducive to employee safety and workplace security.
While this series of posts will cover everything from vandalism to foot traffic logistics, as an owner or manager, you can’t afford to ignore any one threat against your business. Regarding logistics issues stemming from foot traffic, protecting your employees, customers, and property comes down to a number of factors. One, you need high-end equipment from leading manufacturers to ensure reliable door locks, badge readers, and video intercom systems. Two, you need top-notch devices installed by professionals with a wealth of experience in designing card access systems consisting of card readers, biometric scanners, and more tailored to your unique facility layout and vulnerabilities. Finally, you need a system that can be tested and maintained regularly—and quickly—by professionals to ensure continued functionality. After all, if the threats against your business never stop, your security systems can’t, either.
There are reasons EPS Security is Michigan’s largest family-owned security and life safety provider. As a local company, we work to protect businesses within our own communities. Our dedicated team have collective decades of experience in the oft-advanced and complex world of commercial security. Our technicians are trained to install and service equipment from world class vendors such as Honeywell®, DMP®, AXIS®, and Digital Watchdog® so our customers know that when they’re getting an EPS Security system, they’re getting a security solution with clout.
Additionally, EPS Security provides an optional benefit that many professional security providers do not: managed card access. We have an entire department dedicated to managing over 1,000 buildings and are responsible for administering more than 3,000 unique user changes in a month. Having an EPS Managed Access Control system allows you to offload the administrative work inherent to managing a card access system to a group of professionals, all while maintaining the benefits of said system.
For more than 65 years, we’ve made protecting Michigan businesses our business. Whether you’re looking to bolster your existing card access systems or are looking for a brand-new solution, let EPS Security help you to protect what matters most.