As a company and an employer of others, you have certain expectations for their diligent work and a certain measure of their loyalty. In return, you also have certain responsibilities you have to meet. And while some responsibilities are legal requirements, others are more social traditions and some are just ways that companies differentiate themselves in attracting and retaining good employees.
Employee Policies Over the Years
A hundred years ago, companies could rule their employees with an iron fist, putting down dissent, breaking strikes, and working from a place of extreme power when compared to their employees. But in the early 1900s, this was seen as a severe social issue, and many changes have been legislated in American employment law over the past 100 years. Although American companies have a very low threshold of responsibility for employee rights when compared to many European countries, they all have a direct and unambiguous responsibility to protect safety in the workplace.
When many people think of workplace safety, they think of industrial and manufacturing environments, where big machines and violent processes make working hazardous for the fragile humans that work among them. For me, it’s the idea of a steel mill with blast furnaces, crucibles full of molten metals with heat, smoke and danger all around. Others, might first think of hazards that are more insidious like exposure to carcinogenic materials or hazardous chemicals that could cause long term harm and disease. Mesothelioma, black lung, and emphysema have all been linked to certain professions and the exposure workers experience in their environments.
But with so many more Americans working in offices than in manufacturing, mining, or other, traditionally-dangerous professions, office safety is a much bigger issue on 2015 than it was in 1915. And office safety is a different issue that safety on a factory floor.
In an office environment, the surroundings are considered to be inherently safe. Aside from a Material Safety Data Sheet that lists the cleaning solution in the break room and the toner fluid in the copier as hazardous, there are few environmental safety issues beyond the risk of repetitive stress injuries from spending too long at your desk.
But there is one inherently unsafe influence in an office environment: the people who work there.
We’ve all heard nightmare stories about a disgruntled employee shooting up an office. The idea of “going postal” became a slang term for workplace shootings after a rash of at least 20 such events at U.S. Post Office facilities in the 1980s and 1990s. Granted, this is a rare occurrence, but it still happens every year. And what about the varied and diverse network of people this group of employees knows? Of 100 employees in an office, how many could carry dangerous baggage like gang ties, criminal associations, violent relationships, drug problems, or mentally-ill relatives?
If you have 100 employees, your office is exposed to risk from several hundred potential threats from the people in these employees’ lives. And how many people in America are a ticking timebomb, waiting to go off? One in a million? How many could be pushed to it in the wrong circumstances? One in a Thousand?
The risk is real, and there are few things that can fully mitigate it. Controlled access to workplace offices provides some assistance, but, in most workplaces, security protocols are lax. And emergency evacuation protocols are ineffective against an armed assailant. So security efforts are inadequate protection.
Using Software to Ensure Employee Safety
It would seem that the best way to reduce risk is through prevention, and this implies having a means to identify dangers in employee behaviors and interactions. Aside from bringing in a therapist and evaluating employees on a continuous basis, the best way to identify this danger may be through monitoring their communications through network monitoring, call recording, and cell phone spyware.
By monitoring the communication employees have with others on their computers, phones and mobile devices, an employer can identify threatening language or behavior before it boils over and becomes a security problem. And an employee’s company-issued mobile device is with them all the time, not just during office hours. A tool like AutoForward can monitor every call, text, email and app on their smartphones to identify dangerous situations. It can also monitor every website visited to identify dangerous interests.
Using technology can’t prevent every danger, but it could help you head off a potential tragedy at your office.