|  5 min read

HR and workforce security (What you wanted to know, and didn’t know about)

HR and workforce security (What you wanted to know, and didn’t know about) Photo

Recently, Sign In Enterprise partnered with HR.com to present a webinar on workforce security. During the webinar, we answered the questions HR professionals had about security for their workforce, and perhaps more importantly, answering what they didn’t know. 

That included defining what a security professional actually does in a corporate setting, which is well beyond just staffing security guards and preventing break-ins. 

Brian Phillips Photo
Brian Phillips
Director, Security Strategy

“A lot of people just don’t know what security does in the corporate realm,” said Brian Phillips, Director, Globe Security Strategy with Sign In Enterprise. “They see the security guards in the lobby and just assume that we manage that team and that’s it. But corporate security is more about risk management at an operational level.”

Along with physical security, the topics of threat management, organizational resiliency and industry-specific security concerns were talked about, such as cybersecurity and regulatory compliance issues. 

We asked attendees to share what they learned from the presentation, or what they hoped to learn more about, and we will share them with you to learn more about the connection between security and HR. 

Businesses becoming a dynamic hybrid workforce

The elephant in any room when discussing workforces and workforce security is the current COVID-19 pandemic. Quickly, entire workforces had to adjust to the public health crisis and move their operation remote. Now with vaccines becoming available, returning to work is an option for many. However, the lessons learned during the pandemic suggest that full-time office working might be a thing of the past. 

And for those returning to the office, there is a greater emphasis on physical security. Employees are concerned about going back to a physical workplace, which is why workplace health and safety is now a greater consideration for most employees than it was before.

Workforce security survey about returning to work

One attendee said they learned about the “changing dynamics of the workplace due to restrictions affecting physical security” and learned how to "adopt a more periodic/remote workforce.”

HR professionals are now directly dealing with physical security issues in their workplace because employees are making employment decisions, based on the level of safety employers provide. This can be brand new for many HR professionals, who perhaps never thought of workforce security as a part of their duties working in human resources, but are now finding themselves working side-by-side with security professionals to retain employees. 

Lacking Workforce security could result in employees leaving

“Employees are central to all of the programs you have,” said Phillips. “On the physical security side, you have access control-- who is allowed to come into the facility and not. Keeping those who are not, out, so they don’t harm those who are.”

HR and security is an important relationship

Alex Elson Photo
Alex Elson
Director of Risk Management and Security Integrator Alliances

An attendee mentioned that they would “continue to advocate with the C-Suite about the importance of the security and HR relationship and to ensure all are on the same page.”

That relationship is now critical in the post-COVID-19 work environment, as physical security is playing a greater role in future HR professionals' dealings. Because of the global scale of the pandemic, HR professionals are now having to look well beyond their own office when thinking about security measures and the people underneath them. 

“HR and security are like a marriage made in heaven now,” said Alex Elson, Director of Risk Management and Security Integrator Alliances with Sign In Enterprise. “These are the two most important aspects of an organization as it relates to putting together a seamless Duty of Care platform. So the responsibility with HR is to engage with security and other divisions within the organization that have a direct response for their employees, whether it be in the HQ, in other locations globally, or even now, with the hybrid workforce, back in the home front working from home, security and HR have to be a team.”

HR professional survey
Via Humanresourcesonline.com

A recent survey suggested that HR professionals were not as highly involved in the COVID-19 response as perhaps they should. Most responded to the survey saying they had no committee at all, while only 9% of respondents said they, as a member of HR, were leading the committee. However, the shift is happening where HR and security are now working together more often. 

HR’s role in Duty of Care initiatives

The concept of Duty of Care was presented during the webinar and multiple attendees provided feedback saying they would complete a Duty of Care audit. One attendee remarked, “As HR professionals, we do have a duty to care for our employees, customers, and the general public. This spans over many areas.”

Duty of Care
Duty of Care umbrella: The obligation of organizations to assume responsibility for protecting their employees from risks and threats when working. The responsibility of organizations to look after their employees is widely protected within the legislation of many countries.

Webinar attendees were reminded that they no longer just had a Duty of Care to their own people, but now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had one to the public as well. If someone were to get COVID-19, and then they take it out into the community, there are now brand awareness issues and compliance issues. 

“Duty of Care responsibilities are very critical on a going-forward basis,” said Elson. “The only way to do that is for security and HR to bring in all other divisions to ensure the ultimate response is that every single employee, no matter where they work, is protected as it relates to a health and safety risk that may occur.”

With employees now spanning different states/provinces, even countries, the Duty of Care takes on a global meaning, as it’s not just about one office in one city, but now a workforce that spans the globe. And each employee could have different restrictions and compliance concerns from local, state and federal authorities. 

Part of this strategy can be building a culture of compliance. With security and HR working together, HR is able to push the compliance responsibilities to the employees and integrate them into the company culture. This is just one example of how HR and security are becoming a formidable team. 

Working from home is not without security issues

The hybrid workforce looks to be the new normal for many businesses in the future. Employees will spend half of their time in the office and the other half will be at home. Most companies have learned to be flexible and adjust to remote working. It has had it’s pros and cons, such as more productivity, less commute time, but also people are working longer hours. However, the general thought is that moving forward, coming into the office will be reserved for must-have meetings and appointments, and normal work would be completed at home.

What is the likely hybrid work model (physically)

Return to Work model
Source: Forester 2020

And despite moving to a hybrid or complete work from home model, there is still an expected level of security and Duty of Care HR professionals need to provide their employees with. 

“Duty of Care goes outside the four walls of the HQ,” said Elson. “Whether you have someone working overseas, or someone working from home, you still have to put in the practices and protocols and training of employees to make sure that even working from home, they have a safe and secure environment.”

Elson further commented that it goes beyond the obvious such as physical security. And it now includes things such as mental wellness and ensuring office spaces at home are comfortable, with proper chairs and desks so employees don’t get back pains. Prior to the massive movement to a work from home environment, HR professionals were not looking at these Duty of Care issues, which now fall under their umbrella. 

Not to mention the cybersecurity threats that are now just as much a part of HR as they are security, ensuring people within the company and the information they have are secure from outside threats. 

Learn more about HR’s role in security

In this webinar, you’ll learn about Duty of Care, the role HR professionals play in workforce security concerns moving forward in a hybrid environment, and how HR and security are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

You’ll also learn about the new technology and tools HR professionals should be considering for their workplace. This includes screening and visitor management systems, access controls, and check-in/out controls. 

Top technologies that would make business leaders more confident about bringing employees back to the workplace amid COVID-19.

Workforce security top technologies

If you would like to watch the webinar and see how the role of the HR professional is evolving with workforce security in mind, click below and join in the conversation. 

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