There will always be some people who seek to take advantage of other people’s goodwill and graciousness. This month’s issue is meant to remind about some of the basics in making a business secure. As in past months, Tourism Tidbits reminds that it is not written by professional lawyers and as such it does NOT pretend to offer legal advice. Tourism Tidbits merely offers these suggestions as points of discussion to raise with legal staff.
-Be aware that we live in a very dangerous world. With wars breaking out around the world it is essential that one not only stay up-to-date on world affairs but obtain information from as many sources as possible. We live in a world in which many in the media are less than honest and facts are often confused with personal biases. It is essential that in worlds of disinformation that tourism leaders attempt to distinguish fact from fiction.
-Before hiring someone know what the rights and duties of an employer are. Speak with legal professionals as to if a waiver to access driver license records is needed, how to do a credit check, and what type of drug screening can be required. Employers are not expected to be a legal expert in these areas, but it behooves to review policies and applications with a qualified legal expert prior to beginning the legal process.
-Check with legal staff as to what type of background investigation should be done and what liability releases will be needed in order to conduct this investigation. Tourism entities get sued, too. What is an employer liable to/for and what not? As many people in tourism have lived in more than one location, one may need to check employment records in other states/nations. Check with legal staff to see if previous employment information may be requested and know the laws of the locale in which the previous employment occurred. That way, if a former employer states that it is against the law to release previous employment information and it is not, as a potential employer, one will be able to counter with facts rather than with suppositions.
-Do a full-interview. Interviews can tell a lot about a person. Make sure to interview the perspective employee in a place that is quiet and in which full attention can be given. Make sure to have all telephone calls held. If interviewing a person of the opposite sex, be sure to have two people in the room and one of these people should be the same sex as the applicant. Ask an attorney if interviews may be taped and if the applicant that he/she is being taped needs to be informed. Always begin an interview with some “small talk/chit chat.” This warm-up period will put the interviewee at ease and give time to judge body language. When interviewing, use a combination of closed- and open-ended questions. Closed questions can be answered with a yes-no while open ended questions require explanations. Many interviewers prefer to alternate the type of question they ask. Closed answered questions should be answered in a strong and firm manner; open-ended questions should demonstrate the person’s pensive side.
-Do a physical security assessment of the premises or ask the local police department to do one with and for the company. Many police departments are more than willing to do full security assessments of premises. Police departments will examine the building’s parameter, give advice as to landscaping errors and check lighting and door locks. Have a specific list of questions ready for the officer who conducts the security assessment. For example, ask the officer where he/she believes the building is most vulnerable. Go over schedules with the officer. When are people in the building and when is the building vacant? How many people are in the building at any one time? Do employees have access to a panic button?
-Know which areas are most vulnerable to employee theft. If there is cash in the building, how much is kept on hand and what controls are in place to guarantee that this money will go to where it belongs? Are there administrative areas (bookkeeping, accounting) that are open to fraud? Make sure to go over accounting procedures with more than one specialist. In issues of money, make sure that there are double checks on where money is spent and what happens to incoming money. Remember that tourism and travel are highly vulnerable to identity theft. Make sure that all documents are carefully disposed, shredded, or stored. Back up all computer files daily and keep a second back-up off site. It is also a good idea to have a hard copy of anything that has to do with finances.
-Review with the board and with the local police department if private security needs to be hired. If the answer is yes, then make a list of the companies in the area. Whom else have they served? Do they understand the relationship between security, tourism, and customer service? Are their policies flexible? Remember that security needs change as the times change. No security policy or procedure should ever be written in stone.
-Make sure that all policies and procedures are written and known. For example, to avoid problems, as an employer, it may be wise to have all employees sign a form stating that they have read the disciplinary and termination procedures and understand them. These procedures should be checked over by a legal team to make sure that nothing that is stated is illegal. Employees should be aware of their rights and obligations and in a like manner they should know what management’s rights and obligations are. Under no circumstances should workplace violence ever be tolerated.