Are Access Control Card Readers Enough? Re-Evaluating Employee Screening Processes

CONOPs Employee Screening Physical Security

By Neil Sandhoff, Vice President of North America at Evolv Technology

When it comes to security in the workplace, many organizations are starting to question whether access control card readers are enough. Even more, just like many school children feared returning to school this year, employees are becoming increasingly afraid to go to work – this is the new reality and one that we haven’t encountered before.

As organizations turn their attention to protecting their staff, many have started exploring employee screening options. However, the introduction of any new technology or process brings questions and concerns, and organizations and security teams will need to consider a variety of factors. For example, while employees are calling for new security measures to keep them safe, they will be wary about anything that might slow down their process of getting into work or getting to meetings on time.

Let’s explore nine steps organizations should take to implement a successful and non-invasive employee screening process.

Step 1 – Determine the value of keeping your employees safe

Leadership needs to understand the value of creating a safe environment. They should ask themselves the hard questions like whether any employees or visitors pose a risk to the organization. Did someone leave on bad terms or get fired and not go quietly? Can anyone access your building entrance?   Evaluating the level of risk, potential threats and value of creating a safe work environment at the beginning will help shape the overall process.

Step 2 – Identify the impact of not having employee screening

Beyond employee requests, management teams need to think about their larger business, and the consequences something like an active shooter incident could have on their future and profitability. They should ask themselves, “is my business at risk if I don’t put in security?” An active shooter incident can have both an immediate and long-lasting economic impact on an organization.

Step 3 – Define policies and end goals

Before diving in, it’s important to clearly define the goal of implementing an employee screening system. What are you looking to achieve? Are you looking to account for every person who enters the building or only identify specific persons of interests? Are you looking to detect guns and knives? What about non-metallic threats like suicide vests or PVC pipe bombs like we recently have seen in the news? These are points to consider as organizations build out their strategy.

In addition, some industries that work with unions will need to review the union policies before moving forward with the selection process. Unions have varying agreements, some of which require that employees be paid during screening time. Having a firm understanding of what these policies will help ensure compliance down the road.

Step 4 – Perform various assessments

Organizations should run a variety of assessments to help identify the type of employee screening that best fits their needs. For example, knowing they will be met with questions about cost, management should plan on running a financial assessment to determine what they can afford and how it will be paid for.

In addition, organizations should run a threat assessment to fully understand what threats it’s vulnerable to based on office location, design, number of employees, etc. Remember, there is no one-size fits all solution and while talking to similar organizations to get a sense for what they are doing can be helpful, every building has its own unique set of opportunities and challenges. Running a threat assessment provides organizations with the insights they need to develop a screening plan that fits their requirements and vulnerabilities.

Management should also conduct an assessment on the employee experience. Is throughput, speed, limited or no divestment of personal items during screening important to your employee’s experience?   If so, only a limited number of employee screening technologies will be acceptable to your plan. Also, take strong consideration into privacy laws and employees’ perception of privacy and obtrusive practices during the screening process throughout the process.

Step 5 – Identify and evaluate employee screening technologies

Armed with a budget and knowledge of potential vulnerabilities, organizations can start exploring the specific employee screening solutions on the market that fit their needs. Factors to consider include detection capabilities, alarm rates, speed, and the number of people/guards to operate such systems.

It’s also important to consider the employee experience. Remember, employees are concerned that new processes will slow down their process of getting to work each morning or make it difficult for them to perform their job efficiently. To ensure the experience is a smooth one, look for solutions that keep people moving, limit physical touching and allow employees to keep track of their belongings.

Step 6 – Concept of Operations (CONOPs)

A well thought out, documented plan on how to implement and conduct screening operations is critical.   Work with vendors and other organizations who have implemented employee screening to learn best practices. Document the CONOPS for various deployments that can account for changes in your security posture. Most organizations develop CONOPs for daily use and different CONOPs to employ during heightened levels of security where the threat risk is greater.

Step 7 – Develop and roll out a communications strategy for employees

While many employees today are calling for their organizations to implement more stringent security practices and processes, management teams still need communicate the new processes to employees in an official way. There are a lot of positive messages companies can share with employees about employee screening that demonstrate corporate commitment to employee safety. Environments that haven’t had any type of employee screening in the past such as hospitals, office buildings, warehouses and other large organizations are sharing more information about their employee’s desire to work in a safer workspace.

Step 8 – Take time to train security teams on the new system

With a system in place, the next step is training the security team and employees on how to use the new system. It’s important that each member of the security team gets a hands-on training opportunity and employees get information on what to expect.

Step 9 – Go live and make adjustments along the way

Once the system is operational, monitor the process and make adjustments as necessary. Get input from a variety of groups within the business to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Communicate about changes through the same strategy employed in step 7 to ensure employees feel part of the decision and process.

As employee screening becomes more prevalent across all industries, organizations are looking for the right solution to meet their individual needs. By following the steps outlined above, organizations can find the purpose-built device and the right process to keep their employees safe.

Check out our blog to learn more about improving the physical security screening experience.

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