Last week, the Energy Security Council held its annual meeting in person for the first time since 2019. There was a hearty exchange of experiences, ideas and best practices for protecting employees, assets and the “right to operate” in the current environment.
The Summit Off Duty team in attendance had the following takeaways to share with friends and customers who couldn’t be there in person.
3 Key Takeaways
One new issue and frequently discussed topic at the ESC meeting was post-Covid return to work. As more employees return to work, workplace violence is increasing beyond pre-pandemic levels.
Overall, there is a reluctance among employees to return to the office. Putting health safety measures in place is the first step to make employees comfortable re-entering the workplace. Attendees felt they had these measures in hand, however, physical safety has been a tougher challenge. Tempers and anxiety run high among staffers being forced to return. And this contingent of the workforce often hasn’t had a lot of opportunity to maintain their social interaction skills over the past two years. Workplace tensions and conflict grow to the point that some employees can no longer be effective in their jobs. Terminations result and unfortunately are too often met with outbursts that can become violent.
Companies’ workplace violence prevention programs and workplace violence assessment teams are critical to managing this growing problem. To give workers a greater sense of physical safety, some companies are enlisting the support of off-duty officers, stationing them in lobbies and around the campus to help through the return-to-work transition. An officer’s presence brings peace of mind and reassurance for all. They add value in termination scenarios as they don’t work for the company so terminated employees don’t feel “ganged up on.” They also have training in de-escalation and the ability to call in reinforcements if the situation escalates
The value of sourcing local content extends to security. For starters, local security forces know the community, including the good and bad actors and what is important to the community. They have ears and eyes trained on what’s happening on the ground, potential issues and can help create an effective response. Being able to have that mix of law enforcement officers who know what’s going on in the community with company security and energy sector subject matter experts has helped ESC participants improve security and operational safety performance.
Using local officers can diffuse a tense situation and allow meaningful dialogue. Because they are truly part of the community, the community (at large) is more comfortable with them. People inclined to protest see a neighbor, not a faceless uniform beholden to a corporate employer, and that sends a positive signal.
Attendees at ESC are noting a shift in protest techniques. Activists are targeting executives outside of traditional, secure corporate spaces and moving into personal spaces…executives’ homes, vehicles, restaurants, third-party events, family social media accounts and more. This is stretching security teams to assess more venues, monitor a wide variety of open-source media for intelligence, be in more places more often, and maintain a robust security detail beyond headquarter locations. A lot of large enterprises are turning to off-duty officers for security “bench strength” without the commitment of a full-time hire.
With gas prices what they are the energy sector is taking a lot of undue heat, while under incredible pressure to produce. The last thing any company needs is a security misstep. Summit Off Duty can place officers where you need them, when you need them, to keep security details strong and ensure no post ever goes uncovered.