HR's Involvement in Security

Julie Shenkman
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HR professionals were once tasked with processing new-hire paperwork and organizing the annual employee picnic, but that has changed. Today, HR experts are strategic partners who help company executives control costs and prevent problems. One of the most recent changes is the focus on improving workplace security and implementing crisis communication plans. Here are several reasons why the HR department is in the best position to handle workplace security concerns.

The HR department is the first point of contact for many applicants. As a result, HR experts are well-positioned to screen out applicants with criminal backgrounds or histories of violent behavior. Conducting background checks, reviewing letters of recommendation and contacting an applicant's personal references are just some of the ways a human resources expert contributes to workplace security. If your company isn't screening applicants thoroughly, consider adjusting your hiring policies to address any security concerns.

Human resources experts are responsible for developing new policies and updating existing policy manuals, putting them in a great position for enhancing workplace security. If a security situation arises and there is no policy in place to handle it, the HR team can meet with managers and key employees to ensure a policy is drafted quickly. The HR department is also typically responsible for drafting workplace safety policies and working to prevent falls, chemical spills, burns and other types of on-the-job injuries.

If a crisis occurs, alerting employees quickly is of the utmost importance. Department managers may have contact information for the employees they supervise, but they are not likely to have the home and mobile telephone numbers of every employee in the company. Because HR professionals have access to such a vast array of data, it makes sense for the HR department to be in charge of crisis communications. Some companies have robust human resources information systems with data that can also be used to produce post-incident reports and guide policy changes.

Many companies have employee assistance programs or wellness programs administered by the HR department. In some cases, making use of these resources may be enough to prevent or defuse tough situations. With the rise in workplace violence, for example, your HR team should review existing EAP policies and determine if there are any provisions in place for addressing workplace safety concerns. You might need to offer safety planning services, counseling or referrals to community resources to help employees and reduce the risk of violence in your workplace.

As the role of the HR department continues to change, your HR team is likely to take on more responsibilities regarding workplace security. Help them meet the challenge by providing the resources necessary to research workplace security issues, develop new policies and implement solutions. Addressing safety and security issues now will help you keep your employees safe and ensure everyone knows what to do in the event of an on-site crisis.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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