The 6 Key Pillars for Building a Safety & Security Culture that Protects Employees & the Public

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Any organisation with public-facing employees has a challenge on its hands. Humans are unpredictable; every single one of us has different
needs and perspectives on the environment around us. If you combine unknown human behaviour with a business that needs to make money, keep customers happy and keep its staff safe within an increasingly aggressive society, you get a very particular challenge for businesses and public service organisations.

By developing a safety and security culture, organisations are able to better manage and lessen the impact of the unpredictable human behaviour on staff, the public and their day-to-day operations. To do this successfully needs a multi-pronged, consistent approach underpinned by policy, training, communication, partnership and justice. With an embedded culture, the right behaviours become automatic and risk is reduced.

Here we outline the 6 key pillars that will help you create a successful safety and security culture. 

1. Policy: Establish Clear Guidelines and Zero Tolerance

When anything can happen, policy rules. Setting clear policies that are easy to deploy is the foundation stone for creating a safety and security culture in your organisation. Guidelines should be designed to be easily actionable, not just to protect your employees and your business reputation but also to keep your customers safe so they come back happily.  Example policies include guidelines such as a ‘Hands-on Procedure’ which guides employees on how to respond to aggressive incidents and assaults as well as reporting procedures for incidents so that staff know they will be taken seriously and followed up with appropriate action.

2. Training: Equip Staff with Knowledge & Skills They Can Apply

Policies alone aren’t enough: your staff need to know they exist, why they are important and how to use them confidently in a wide range of
scenarios, therefore training is essential. More than this, its effectiveness is in consistency of application which can be achieved with ongoing and refresher training.

To embed an active safety culture, training programmes should cover all levels of staff from the frontline and up. Just some examples of training include understanding of processes and procedures, conflict management techniques, hands-on policy, understanding relevant laws, effective use of bodycams and evidence gathering (including CCTV evidence). Some of these will be covered in the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS)

3. Communication: Maintaining Open Channels

Every culture requires effective communication to create a sense of unity and shared responsibility and clear reporting procedures will ensure the fast dissemination of information for a prompt and efficient response to incidents. Remember to also include processes for confidential reporting .

Communication is not just about internal procedures. Organisations need to know who and how they will interact with the Police and Courts and then the wider external networks, such as social media, can be utilised to help reassure and inform your stakeholders. Good relationships with the press and unions should also be fostered.

4. Partnership: Collaborate for Greater Impact

No entity operates in isolation. Your organisation’s culture is a part of a wider stakeholder group and cultural framework, so an ethos of transparency, accountability and shared responsibility will go a long way towards mitigating both business and individual employee, customer or traveller risk.

To achieve this, every organisation needs to collaborate proactively with other businesses, the Police, courts, the public, and the press.  With these strong partnerships you can facilitate the exchange of information, resources, expertise more effectively and have confidence in managing unexpected situations.

5. Justice: Upholding Accountability and Providing Support

A safety and security culture assumes zero tolerance of aggression and criminality. Develop a good relationship with law enforcement agencies and the judicial system. This isn’t simply about the law being upheld, just as importantly it shows your staff and customers that anti-social and criminal behaviour towards them will not be tolerated and builds their confidence in your business.

6. On-going Support for Employees

It is easy to talk about planning, training and mitigation for dealing with violence but very little is said about the very real physical and emotional damage (however minor) can have on the recipient. As a part of their responsibility to their staff’s wellbeing, employers should have plans in place for support post-incident. Equally, all staff should have the confidence that they have support should they suffer an attack. Businesses can demonstrate this by having a 'Workplace Violence Policy'. This will also require training for management teams covering how to deliver this policy after the incident. For your frontline teams, knowing their safety and wellbeing is supported for both knowing how to manage conflict itself and for their health after the event, goes a long way to keeping great employees and reducing staff turnover.

Take An Integrated Approach: Don’t Allow a Single Link in the Chain Be Broken

Every one of the six pillars needs to be connected with the next. If one link in the chain is weakened or broken, your entire safety and security
culture framework is compromised. To maintain the integrity of each component, make sure you have a process for regular review and reinforcement and that reviews provide the opportunity to adapt to changing circumstances over time.

Your safety and security culture will help you safeguard employees and the wider public. When you prioritise these elements with collaboration among stakeholders, organisations can cultivate an environment where safety is not just a priority but a shared responsibility and with that, both the people and your organisation will thrive.

Top 2 Percent is a specialist operations and security training provider.  To talk more about creating a safety and security culture and to find out more about how we can help organisations with customer-facing employees, email us here. 

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