The sixth anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks brought about a great deal of angst for employees who work in high-rise buildings in large urban areas, as well as those who work in facilities deemed critical infrastructure.

While only a portion of the security equation includes camera systems, vehicle barriers, motion detection and uniformed security, one of the most overlooked resources that should be utilized is your security education program. We need to look at our employees as a “force multiplier” within the organization as these assets are low cost and very knowledgeable concerning daily operations of the facility and therefore able to recognize suspicious activity.

Motivating Employees

Motivating employees to report suspicious activities can be very difficult. The belief that “it’s not my job” or “I don’t want to get involved” is often a rationale behind not responding to an incident. Often employees do not know nor do they understand how their facility could be a target for criminal or terrorist activities. The savvy security manager must therefore create methods to bring an understanding of the threat closer to their employees, without creating undue fears.

Within every organization there will always be a core of employees who are inherently motivated to do the right thing, while another segment prefers to remain anonymous. The key to increasing awareness is maximizing those already motivated and educating all others on how the threat relates to them.

In presenting security education to employees, we must first tailor the information to the intended audience. Nothing will lose attention and credibility quicker than presenting a “canned” presentation to an audience where the material does not apply. The key to keeping the audience’s attention is to make it interesting so they understand that it indeed “can happen to them.”

Another important component of security education involves the ability to get the employee involved in the training. Scenario-based situations often provide an excellent mechanism to involve employees because it provokes the employee to apply thoughts of how their specific work locations could be affected. Involving employees in the development of training scenarios can often result in a greater understanding of potential vulnerabilities at an employee’s workplace. One effective way to involve the employees is to ask them to think about how they would penetrate or attack their own facility if they were the adversary. The sharing of these ideas will be of great benefit to the entire audience, and management as well.

Understanding the Threat

Perceptions are important in security. While fencing may be deemed a waste of money and a security device that can be overcome in mere seconds, the employee needs to understand that an adversary may not view a fenced-in facility the same way. There will be a heightened level of sensitivity while conducting surveillance of a potential target, and it is this heightened sensitivity that employees need to know about.

Surveillance of a target can be as simple as observing whether security procedures are actually followed. A fence that is properly maintained with the appropriate signage presents a different perception than one that is run-down and poorly maintained. The adversary learns a great deal just from their observation skills.

An integral part of employee security education should focus on understanding how the adversary thinks and acts. Think about how you feel when the police officer pulls onto the ramp behind you while you are going just a few miles over the posted speed limit. It is this feeling that you know you are doing something wrong and everyone knows it that the adversary who is conducting surveillance on your facility feels as well.

What Next?

Educate your employees. Make a commitment to ensure they are kept informed with up-to-date information that is meaningful to them. Relying on technical equipment alone is a recipe for failure. A layered approach to security must start with the employee. Empowering every employee with the knowledge and understanding of the threats, methods of operation and most importantly, how each individual employee can contribute to the overall security posture at the facility, provides the groundwork for all other security program aspects. From the threat perspective, a motivated employee who asks questions about your activity sends a powerful message. The message is that your security force is multiplied well beyond the obvious fencing and cameras.