REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Recent incidences involving hotel housekeeping staff are a good reminder to dig out your hotel security policies and procedures and reacquaint your team with the property protocols. While you’re at it, why not consider updating those policies?
While hotel-specific data is not available, more than 572,000 nonfatal violent crimes—rape, robbery, or assault—occurred against persons age 16 or older while they were at work or on duty in 2009, according to a U.S. Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics report (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/wv09pr.cfm). This is about a quarter of the nonfatal violent crimes that occurred at the workplace in 1993.
Hotel security experts had plenty to say about ways to improve safety and security in the guestrooms and hallways.
At the top of the list is training.
“All hotel people should be trained in observing and detecting abhorrent or dysfunctional behaviors, spot people acting out, and report it right away,” said Ron Williams, owner of Talon Executive Services, a personal protection company.
Training should ensure a uniform response to protect a victim—whether that’s from a fall or an assault, said Anthony C. Roman, CEO of Roman and Associates, a global investigation and security and risk management program consulting firm.
There should be someone who is trained to take an official statement and knows what it means to “preserve the chain of evidence,” Roman said. “The sooner data is collected, the more valid it is. The better the chain is preserved, the more credible it is and is less likely to be dismissed in court.”
A few personal security tips for your employees:
• Never put your own safety at risk; if you are uncomfortable in any situation, remove yourself right away.
• Never be afraid to tell a guest “no” if you are uncomfortable with their actions; report the behavior right away.
• Work only in well lit areas that you know well; know your means of escape before entering.
• Walk and act with confidence.
Source: Chuck Conine
Next on the list: appropriate technology.
“In technology, none is the silver bullet—you have to layer technology like you layer policies. Of course, cameras are a good idea in hallways and at all entrances to each room,” Roman said.
And recent talk about panic buttons is supported by some experts.
“It’s an excellent idea. Tremendous idea that they carry an alert device that they can keep with them and it should alert a central station. … It should have a GPS device to register the location on premises.” Williams said.
Last, but not least foster empowerment.
You can never underestimate the importance of empowering employees to take appropriate steps where they feel their personal safety is at risk or they are offended by statement, said Chuck Conine, president of Hospitality HR Solutions.
“A great deal of security and safety involves judgment calls, an employee that is empowered to act, and will be backed by the manager,” he said. “To me that’s a simple prescription for most situations being avoided, but if it happens they know what to do.”
Workplace violence is a justifiable concern.