Fraternization As a Challenge for Security Companies
Fraternization is a huge challenge and coaching opportunity for security companies. As security guards are assigned to different posts, they are often dealing directly with the client’s employees and customers. Security guards like all human beings are social animals and will build relationships with the client’s employees and customers. That can lead to many different problems. Although post orders will specifically require random searches or checking the employee ID of each employee, security guards will treat employees they have a relationship with differently. That will often result in other employees complaining about being searched or asked for IDs while others are just allowed to walk through the checkpoint. In worse cases the non-adherence to post orders can result in serious security breaches.
Building relationships with people where security officers are assigned definitely has its benefits as well. Communication in cases of emergency or when a problem has to be addressed is much easier. In case the security officer makes a mistake the client is more likely to be understanding. Security guards will provide better service, because they feel more comfortable in their environment and clients will appreciate the better more personalized service.
Security guards have to be coached well by field supervisors and security consultants regarding fraternization. If the security officer is assigned to randomly search employees as they leave a factory, the field supervisor should stress the importance of the randomness of the searches. For example if every third employee is supposed to get searched it should be done without exception. If the security guard decides to make changes to the procedure just because he has a good relationship with one of the employees it will not only upset other employees, but it will compromise the security of the facility. We were providing security services at a manufacturing facility recently. One day one of the designers got laid off and on their way out they decided to take some designs with them. The security officer stopped him, because his post orders asked to stop anybody from leaving with documents. The designer insisted on leaving and tried to convince the security guard by stressing their long-term relationship. Nevertheless, the security guard did the right thing and insisted on calling his supervisor. If the security guard did not stop the designer it would have resulted in a huge loss for the client and most likely he would have lost his job.
Supervisors and security consultants must be familiar with the post orders and responsibilities of the guards working for them. They must be able to foresee possible conflicts of interests that may arise from security officers building relationships that may affect their judgment. Security consultants and field supervisors should encourage positive working relationships, but should also stress that post orders should be adhered to at all times despite of relationships. They should constantly monitor their guards and replace guards if they feel that their judgment has been compromised. Awareness of the problem of fraternization is just the first step. Only constant awareness, training, coaching, observations and communication with guards will ensure that post orders are adhered to at all times.