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Corporate security is everybody's job
October 2002, News

Probably the single most important lesson – which is most often learned the hard way – about corporate security is that it should be an enterprise-wide culture, and not just the responsibility of one department.

In enterprises that have a large number of employees, it is often not the most obvious ones who can be the biggest security asset. In an hotel, for example, it has been proven that the most potent security arm available to management is the cleaning and maintenance staff, and not necessarily the front desk personnel. In a famous case at a well known hotel, management launched a needs assessment survey to determine what type of security training was necessary and who would benefit from it most.

Based on the survey results, housekeeping and maintenance personnel became the subject of an intensive security-training project; unlike office workers and front desk personnel, they constantly moved throughout the hotel and could serve as security's eyes and ears. Overcoming language and shift scheduling problems - familiar to South African employers - was one logistical obstacle eventually overcome with the use of interpreters, easy to understand graphical presentations and integration into shift times, with each lecture built upon the previous one and reinforcing the theme that security was everybody's job.

The first training module focused on the overall importance of security and the level of security expected by hotel guests. The second session introduced the teamwork concept, and stressed that each member of staff, whether maintenance or management, must work together towards common security goals.

The third training segment instructed employees on how to recognise suspicious persons on the property and how to handle such a situation. The fourth session discussed access control and how it is used as a method of keeping suspicious people off the property. The final session dealt with the importance of maintaining key control by the housekeeping and maintenance staff. Consistency was key to the presentations, so that no matter who lectured on which segment, it would dovetail into the previous security lessons. To that end, the managers held a dry run to rehearse their presentations before actually presenting them to the employees.

The practical benefit of these training courses was immediately felt: security lapses such as improper key procedures decreased significantly after the security awareness program. From this and other indicators, management concluded that through creative training arrangements, a company can increase general security awareness without reducing staff attention to nonsecurity tasks.

This hotel became a shining example of the maxim: security is everybody's business!

For more information contact Howard Griffiths, Griffiths & Associates, 011 786 8556,

About the author:

Howard Griffiths is managing director of Griffiths & Associates. Griffiths & Associates was established in 1962, and is an organisation dedicated to promoting the physical and financial security as well as the prosperity of its clients' companies.

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