Written by Asaf Amedi
The doctrine that guides every formidable security infrastructure comprises three essential security aspects: a sound security concept, well-trained human resources and advanced technology. The paramount importance of these three aspects cannot be further reiterated when you consider that the costs of prevention are a mere fraction of the possible costs of external failure in the form of damages and litigation. The following article focuses on the software of these three aspects for hotel operators that is the human resource aspect. The importance of the development of a uniform training system is most valuable in obtaining a highly competent force but yet security practitioners often face insurmountable challenges that inhibit training development and implementation, ranging from change resistance to prohibitive costs, to name a few.
Resistance to Change
Process changes undeniably affect employees, induce anxiety and trigger resistance, especially if they are drastic or cross departmental boundaries as adopting new security procedures do. If not mitigated, resistance can give rise to resentment, a scenario no employer wishes to be entangled in. The resistance may also stem from operational impact, turnaround times, customer satisfaction parameters, commercial considerations, comfort zones etc. which can make the change initiative look unpopular & unwelcome. Employee resistance, can however be prevented or mitigated through creation of an environment of mutual trust and flexibility. Employees need to rallied as participants contributing towards the betterment of a facility’s security for the welfare of its guests, not simply executors of standard operating procedures. Quite often, ground up suggestions from actual personnel involved can result in extremely insightful and valuable improvements, rather than purely top-down perspectives or that solely from external consultants. The entire organization needs to be involved towards a common purpose, not simply security personnel in silo.
Management commitment is a prime change agent in winning employees over and striding towards a common goal in implementing security training and change. Overcoming employee resistance to change is essential for both everyday security operations and in times of crisis, although unfortunately often overlooked. The difference between profiting in the long-term and short-term lies in how successful hotel operators enlist employees in the change.
Reiterating above, costs of prevention are a mere fraction of the possible costs of external failure in the form of damages in reputation, infrastructure, welfare and endless litigation. The protection that is accorded to all stakeholders including guests, employees, visitors, contractors, the physical structure of the premises and all that is contained therein and pertinent to the property, determines a hotel’s reputation and business conduct. Hotel operators are generally willing to spend on physical security system components as these are perceived to be generate longer term returns. Yet hotel operators are less willing to invest in necessary training of staff for reasons of its short term nature or due to high turnover rates. When they do, staff training is usually done in silo to a select group of security personnel.
What all hotel operators can cost effectively do is train all staff and not just security personnel on the importance of security, and areas to look out for in everyday operations and in times of crisis. Trained hotel staff who can identify and respond in an appropriate fashion to potential or actual risks, especially those on the frontline from the bellman to the chambermaid, are the perpetual eyes and ears of a hotel, and more valuable and cost effective than any advanced security system can be. Training programs may range from straightforward to highly complex hence there is no reason for hotel staff to not be given the opportunity for at least basic training on areas to look out for in everyday operations and in times of crisis, as well as appropriate reactive protocols.
Should resources be constrained or expertise lacking, hotel operators should consider outsourcing such tasks to qualified security service providers who will take care of provision of all training requirements and support services at fixed hourly rates. This allows for easier computation of budgets and free upper management to pursue other revenue generation activities. Depending on a hotel’s budget, a combination of security schemes can be explored for the most cost effective solution, i.e. engagement of independent consultants complementing in-house security management or entirely outsourcing all security tasks to qualified security service providers.
All that being said, a hotel operator must not neglect conducting due diligence in selection of qualified security service providers, including verifying vendor licensing, reputation, references and stability. It is also crucial to examine the extent and depth of the proposal given in accordance with price quoted and ensure necessary areas are covered such as security screening process, training programs and materials, extent of supervision, support services and personnel wage structures
Mr. Asaf Amedi is Head of Business Development Singapore Office