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Workplace Safety

Everybody knows (but seldom says), how important their receptionist is to the overall well being and safety of their company. The role of the receptionist is not an easy one to define, can differ from company to company, and often changes from day to day. Most receptionists are expected to answer phones, greet customers/clients, give directions, answer questions (from visitors, clients, and co-workers), know policy, know who is who, who is where, how long they have been in the building, why they are there, and even what to do in the event of an emergency. They are essentially the gatekeeper of your company and they are vital to the safe and smooth operation of your company each day.

Looking back at the history of your company, I am sure that you can think of an incident (whether it was big or small) where things did not go as planned, or an event that you thought would never happen to you, suddenly happened and you were forced to take a step back and figure out what went wrong, what went right, and what could be done to prevent an event like that (or something worse) from happening again.

One event that sticks out in my mind occurred when I was working as a Security Officer for a local company in town. On this particular day, an irate visitor came in through the front door and being that the receptionist was the first person that he saw, he immediately began yelling and swearing at her about how unhappy he was with the way he was treated earlier in the day by another employee. The receptionist tried to calm him down by apologizing to him and by explaining to him that he could file a complaint, but he was so mad he just continued yelling and swearing at her. The more he yelled, the angrier he became, and it quickly went from just yelling and swearing, to him suddenly reaching over the counter in an effort to grab and strike the receptionist.

Luckily the receptionist, had been trained in not only de-escalation techniques (which clearly were not working), but also what to do if things continued to escalate. As he continued yelling and swearing, the receptionist was able to push a silent panic alarm located underneath her desk that notified other employees that she was in trouble and needed help right away. She was also able to remove herself from the desk and secure herself in another area out of harms way until help arrived. Thankfully this individual was unarmed and the receptionist was trained in what to do if a situation like this occurred. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened if she wasn’t.

When looking at all the services that a receptionist provides for your company, it should not be hard to see how valuable and important they are and how much they contribute to the overall success and safety of your company. Like most things of value, you want to keep them, protect them, and take care of them to ensure that they continue to function at their optimum level. To help ensure that your receptionist (and ultimately your company) remains protected and safe, we have put together a list of questions to ask yourself about the current environment and the safety measures that you have in place to keep not only your receptionist safe, but your company as a whole.

  1. Do you have access control measures in place that limit or prevent visitors and employees from entering certain areas of your company?
  2. Is your reception/waiting area designed to promote and increase safety levels for employees, visitors, and clients?
  3. Do you know who is in your facility/building and where they are at all times?
  4. Do you have a plan and or policy in place that covers the various emergencies or problems that could occur each day?
  5. Do you have security measures in place that allow your receptionist to quickly get help if they needed it?

If you answered 'NO' to any of the above questions, your receptionist, your clients, your visitors, and even your company could be at risk. Give us a call at CIC to set up a security assessment and to schedule one of our upcoming receptionist training classes. Always remember, it is better to be proactive instead of reactive and that having no plan, is not a plan!

Jeff Nelson is an investigator and corporate security expert at Corporate Intelligence Consultants. For more information about Workplace Violence prevention training, or general Security Management services, please contact Jeff at 1.800.573.2201 / 419.874.2201.