To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, the best laid security plans of stores and businesses often go astray. Why? Because building a security policy doesn’t mean your employees will automatically reinforce it. As a business owner, it’s up to you to motivate your employees to faithfully follow security procedures.

The Power of The Written Word

Every company has a security policy but they may have never written it down. This is a dangerous oversight — because sooner or later — there will come a situation, be it a client lawsuit or an employee challenging his dismissal, when being able to produce a written document spelling out your security procedures will decide the future of your business.

If you have do not have a written plan or it needs updating, sharing the task with employees will create a group of “deputy sheriffs.”

Delegating Responsibility

Seek volunteers to serve an on-going physical-security committee and have them come up with an enforceable plan. Meet with them for guidance, but give them a strong sense of autonomy. Involved employees who have a hand in creating policy will serve as strong enforcers among their peers. In this vein, also charge them with formulating consequences for infractions.

Make Sure Everyone’s on the Same Page

Once your security policy and procedures have been put to paper, schedule a staff meeting and give each employee a copy. Take time to explain your objectives, hand the floor over to your committee to review each procedure and explain why adherence is important, as well as the consequences of infractions — listening to peers casts an aura of shared responsibility.

Allow time for discussion and questions. Make sure each person signs and returns a page attesting that he or she has read and understands the security policy and include these forms in employee files. This will eliminate “I didn’t know” as an excuse. 

Delegate Responsibility for Access Control

One way to bolster security compliance in businesses where inventory, cash or sensitive files are secured in locked-storage areas, cabinets or fireproof safes is to establish an access-control chain of command. They should be responsible for admitting only those fellow employees whose job responsibilities involve handling.

If access is controlled by mechanical locks and keys, charge one employee in each area with responsibility for letting workers in — this includes keeping a record of who entered and when. Make it clear that should something go missing on her watch, she will be held responsible.

Another option is to employ a digital-access control system using electric locks and pass-coded keycards. Keycards can be coded so that only authorized workers can enter. Such systems also include software to create and maintain a database which keeps track of entries and exits.

Make clear that anyone sharing a keycard, passcode or key to facilitate an unauthorized entrance will face interrogation and consequences including possible dismissal. Personal accountability is a highly effectual incentive for complying with physical-security policies.

Personal Interventions

Make time to take walk-throughs to informally monitor employees. Stop and ask random employees their thoughts and concerns about the security policy. Ask for suggestions, write them down for consideration and better yet, invite random staff members to accompany you and be part of the informal process. Employees who feel valued as individuals will be better disposed to protect their workplace.

Virtual Interventions

Mount digital-security cameras in strategic areas and digitally record and store the video. The mere presence of a camera invites best behavior.

Constant Refinements

Maintaining a secure workplace is an ongoing process. Schedule staff meetings throughout the year to solicit employee thoughts and suggestions. Brainstorm any problems. Let your employees know you’re in it for the long run and hopefully, they will be too.