With global business travel becoming the new norm, it is important for Canadian businesses to consider travel security when sending employees overseas to work. Most large Canadian firms have detailed travel policies as well as executive drivers and executive protection personnel contracted to support employees when they arrive. Kidnapping is quite common in Latin America and Mexico. The mind set of Canadians needs to change. No longer can we feel safe by pinning a maple leaf on our lapel. Many small and medium size firms do business in Latin America and have had senior managers fall victim to crimes. With a little travel planning and a security partner in these regions, these firms can greatly reduce their potential risks.
Social media monitoring and analysis has typically been used by corporations to determine the success of marketing campaigns, product launches, customer satisfaction polls as well as an opportunity to get feedback on the customer experience.
More and more unions as well as the occupy movement are now using social media as a powerful tool to mobilize activists in support of social justice campaigns. Corporations faced with a potential difficult labour relations environment need to pay close attention to social media activities. As part of a business’s overall contingency plan they will need to consider the implication of the ability of the union to rapidly mobilize members and activists using Facebook, Twitter and Vibe. Monitoring social media will ensure a company is able to ensure appropriate response strategies and mitigate the risks.
Article by 20/20 Canadian Manufacturing & Exporters’ Magazine
A worker breaks his back roofing, gets hospitalized for three months, and is off work from his manufacturing job for a year. His neighbour, a long-time acquaintance, lets slip he is working under the table for cash, while at the same time receiving workplace injury benefits.
As his employer – who is obviously concerned about the overall productivity of your operations – what would you do?
Desmond Taljaard makes it his mission to provide companies with the answer. As vice president of corporate investigations and security services with AFI International, Taljaard oversees internal investigations into workers’ compensation issues. Much of his work involves investigating the validity of claims and working with employers to see if there is fraudulent activity or workplace injury fraud.
“I would define it as someone feigning an injury in order to gain benefit when they are not entitled to that benefit,” says Taljaard, who estimates there could be as much as $100 million spent each year investigating potentially fraudulent claims in Ontario.
And while many cases do turn out to be fabricated, Taljaard adds that a high percentage end up being legitimate claims. “Someone will be hit by a forklift. Someone will hurt their back.”
When an incident occurs, certain red flags start to jump out. For example, complaints of pain may not match the case, or colleagues may see a supposedly injured employee out and about. Investigations, however, have made even easier by a growing culture of connectedness and social media. Public profiles like Facebook are much less intrusive than surveillance.
“People freely post ‘broke 90 today on the links’ as their status update,” says Taljaard, a former policeman and detective. “Colleagues know each other better than human resources or employers in most cases, and they’re the ones who feel the pressure of a lost employee.”
And when these cases are caught, there are consequences.
Workplace Safety, Health & Wellness Symposium – Claims Management, Fraud and Your Bottom Line: The Real Cost of Risk
As a Gold Partner of the EAC and CME symposium on Workplace Safety, Health & Wellness – Claims Management, Fraud and Your Bottom Line: The Real Cost of Risk, AFI would like to invite and offer you a promo code to receive a discount.
Desmond Taljaard of AFI will also be in attendance and presenting Factors to Consider When Investigating Claims of Workplace Injuries
To register simply click this link https://eac.cmemec.ca/mpower/event/loadevent.action?e=278 and enter promo code “afipromo” in small letters and you will receive the member price of $275 before June 1st and $325 after June 1st.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Recently I was asked, “What is the real value of an undercover investigation?” Unlike surveillance or covert camera installations, an undercover investigation allows you to get to the root cause of the problem. In the past, undercover investigations typically have targeted alcohol or drug abuse issues. These types of issues still do occur, however more and more often it is used to dig deeper into more complex issues such as why is moral low? Could it be an abusive supervisor? Do we have some employees who just don’t want to be at the organization? Why after upgrading and investing in new equipment can we not make productive gains? Has there been a quota system implemented by the workers? Is there bottlenecks and process issues?
Undercover investigations can help management better understand the dynamics within the workplace. One of the greatest concerns is that the investigation might become exposed. With careful planning and execution this rarely occurs. Should you have serious issues such as drugs, alcohol, bullying or harassment, an undercover investigation will allow you to focus in on the issue and bring in other investigative tools to manage the challenges. As an example, you might be able to position a covert camera in the area where female employees are being bullied and catch the harassment on video. Or if employees are using narcotics you may consider a parking lot surveillance to capture activities on video for future use. This ensures the undercover investigation remains covert as intended. In short an undercover investigation is just one of many tools that can be utilized to manage change more effectively.
Growth of Contingency Planning Indicate That Fewer Companies Fail to Plan
By Jim Rovers, National VP Crisis and Disaster Response
While prominent labour disputes continue to capture Canadian headlines, there has been a significant decline in the number of strikes, especially in recent years. According to federal government statistics on days of work lost, the level of strikes today are only around one-seventh of the 1970’s average. Why this labour success story? Certainly there may be many social, economic and political reasons, but one contributing factor is certainly better risk management. More and more companies and executives have stopped being ‘caught off guard’… and have finally woken up to the tremendous benefits of long-term contingency planning.
And it goes beyond labour disputes and plant closures. To defend against workplace violence, floods and natural disasters, smart companies have become proactive in working with security experts to get defensive measures in place to ensure their business is not crippled when the unthinkable occurs.
Risk management and continuity planning, in fact, has become big business – and has saved billions for many companies, not to mention rescuing a few from certain demise. After all, it only takes one incident – and operations could be shut down immediately. Even worse, if there is no plan and matters go to court, union officers will have a field day showing that the unfortunate company did not take the proper steps to protect their employees and business. The damages to a company’s brand and reputation can be so serious that it can lead to complete business shutdown within 2-3 years – or even less.
Planning is an In-Demand Niche
Unsurprisingly then, planning today has been a successful offering for corporate security companies like ours. And yes, it is a great career choice for police and security professionals looking for a strong niche. Planning is a service in high demand — and we have always provided it in-house with top experts, many of whom have been in our employ for many years. It is an area that requires highly skilled specialists able to apply both security smarts and analytical skills to protect the interests of businesses across the nation. We continue to recruit talented individuals into this area today to meet new demands.
What’s Involved in Contingency Planning?
So what does an AFI continuity planner actually do? We sit with the company (months in advance of any negotiation) to set a deadline and work back to develop a step-by-step timeline. A key consideration is ‘how can staff be treated best?’ In other words, we see a big part of our job as making sure the company is doing things properly and fairly when it comes to their workforce.
Our planners and risk experts get to know the individual client’s business, industry, labour climate and unique risks. In the pre-planning stage, we will manage a site audit and survey of all corporate locations and also develop a budget and an outline of what is needed to keep operations running, whether it’s securing offsite facilities (like warehousing and storage) or procuring transportation and manpower – in each case, taking into consideration unique industry and geographic factors.
The plans we develop highlight the realistic expectations of operational capacity during a work stoppage. We factor in all the potential requirements, including highly skilled & trained security officers, videographers, injunction investigators, transportation and logistics equipment and other necessary resources (most of which, incidentally, we provide ourselves in-house).
And it must be mentioned that any effective plan should be in place at least 6 months prior to scheduled labour negotiations.
Manufacturing Plant Crisis Shows Value of Contingency Planning
Without proper contingency planning, a labour dispute can hit hard and devastate a company. As an example of how this can happen, let’s look at one critical situation from January 2008.
‘Un-Anticipated’ Plant Closure
In January 2008, a major manufacturing company in Ontario suddenly announced a plant closure. Management called for an immediate lock out, asking employees to vacate the plant. There was no clear plan of action, communications strategy, nor a complete understanding of the ramifications of this drastic action.
Upon receiving the news, the employees immediately occupied the plant. They ceased operations, took control of the equipment and the building. Management contacted the police for assistance…but police refused to get involved.
AFI was called in to intervene. We secured the perimeter, addressed the employees and immediately commenced gathering evidence to support a court injunction. Once sufficient evidence was gathered, we attended court, provided the necessary evidence and helped the company obtain a court order barring employees from the property. Armed with a court order the police were able to proceed in asking the employees to leave the facility or face potential charges. The employees complied, while our staff monitored the orderly departure. Our objective was to ensure no damage to property occurred and that everyone departed safely from the facility. Once this was achieved the site was turned over to management to resume operations.
Reputation Damage and Other Non-Recoupable Losses
This unanticipated crisis significantly cost the company: bad press, legal fees, lost revenues, stakeholder distrust – and major damage to their global brand and reputation. Sadly, with advance planning in place, none of this would have happened!
Exciting Work Experience – Before or After a Career in the Police Force
If this all sounds like a great challenge – it is. The specialized professionals and planners on our corporate security teams love what they do, and for a good reason. It is incredibly stimulating work that is different every day. Our experts include retired police officers who use experience they gained on the force and apply it to our business and helping our clients. We are also a great base for those aspiring for a career in law enforcement. After all, we present an incredible opportunity to get training, learn on the job and rub shoulders with those who have been on the front lines and doing it for years.
Do Your Homework
So in a sea of corporate security firms, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? It’s a question we might pose both to security professionals looking for employment and companies seeking expert contingency planning services. Look for a strong industry track record, a history of no incidents and excellent in-house capabilities; that is, a company that does not subcontract and has all their own experts and resources. We certainly deliver in these three areas, with our own guards, specialists, training & equipment in place –and a spotless industry reputation. Through our planning and response services, we are proud to have rescued many high profile companies from financial ruin and even obliteration.
Whether you are seeking a career in contingency planning – or looking for a good company to provide it – it’s always beneficial to set your strategy, timelines and do your homework. After all, when you fail to plan – you plan to fail!
When are Strike Security and Workplace Violence Professionals Going to be Taken Seriously by Senior Management?
I can’t help but notice security professionals often take a back seat in a time of need. Why does legal, finance and human resources begin to make critical security decisions when input from those with knowledge, training and expertise are given little consideration.
A few examples come to mind. There was a recent high risk termination, where security was consulted only two hours prior to the dismissal of an employee with a violent past. The termination had been planned for one week and security was not notified. A second instance involved a firm facing a work stoppage. After an assessment and recommendations were completed by the strike security team and an external third party, the finance and legal department elected to shrink timelines, cut costs and reduce critical coverage without understanding the potential risks and not realizing that it could cost a lot more if an issue arose.
This is not a new problem. However security needs to raise its profile if it hopes to influence critical decisions.