“There has to be a tenaciously coordinated effort (by the company) behind the scenes,” Nater said. “There needs to be a lot of vigilance on the part of the company to make sure that they institute procedures way before they begin to (layoff) employees so they can be adequately prepared in these difficult times.”
Nater also encourages organizations to regularly review and update their security polices collectively across all departments within a company. Experts say a mistake many companies make in regards to security planning is treating the security department as an entity that’s separate from the entire organization.
“There’s got to be a partnership between HR and security as to any termination process, whether it’s for one employee or for many. And security has got to be involved with, one, the planning process, as well as the execution of the plan to facilitate the employees that are being let go,” Cosper said. “That specifically requires HR to provide security with the times and dates that certain employees are being let go and where that termination is going to take place. You’ve also got to have a process where security is given a list of people and photographs of people who are no longer employed by the company so there’s a check off at the main door or the lobby of the company so security won’t admit a familiar face.”
Baker echoed Cosper’s sentiments and added that non-cooperation between HR and security could lead to even more costly problems in the future.
“Companies need to find a definition of security that fits the nature of their operation. Such definitions can be a feeling of safety, an atmosphere of comfort, freedom from anxiety and fear, or convenience without risk of harm or loss,” he said. “The HR staff should be educated in workplace violence topics, just as the security department should be educated in HR law and psychology. If staffers from either department are too narrow minded to cooperate, then the objectives of the corporate mission are in jeopardy and the atmosphere is ripe for a negligent security lawsuit should violence proceed.”
In regards to physical security at a company that may be hemorrhaging money, experts say while it’s not feasible to implement state of the art security and surveillance systems, organizations should still take adequate steps to secure their facilities.
“A solid kick to a weak door will get most people inside a facility if they are so motivated. Good lighting, observant and professional security personnel, and solid correction to physical vulnerabilities are key,” Baker said. “We can’t alarm every door inside a bankrupt corporate headquarters and we can’t nail the doors shut either. It will be critical to have cooperation of the property manager if it is a leased facility.”
Perhaps, the last and most fundamental step an organization can take to secure itself during a period of layoffs is to treat its employees with dignity and respect on their way out the door, according to Baker.
“I recently shopped at a closing Circuit City store. There were numerous employees who stood around and goofed off and acted crudely. Customers would approach them for customer service and they would laugh and reply to the customer, ‘Hey open the case and take what you want, they aren’t telling us anything cause they think we will steal so just take the product up front and talk to them.’ The floor personnel were regular store employees and the personnel along the walls and at the front were temporary staff and corporate management to oversee the operation,” he said. “I talked to some of these workers privately and they alluded that while they were paid and employed till the bitter end, and then were not treated respectfully. There is a halfway point demonstrated in this store closing. If you could treat the employee with respect during prosperity, you could treat them respectfully during despair. Controls are important but when a corporation throws the corporate family love out the window during the funeral, it’s hard not to empathize with the angry employee.”