Managing Risk Beyond Your Walls

This past week we witnessed multiple shootings across the country occurring at schools, places of worship, and even during the Super Bowl parade in Kansas City. These are not traditional workplaces for employees – and yet security teams across the country are actively managing these risks in real time: were my employees impacted?  Do they need assistance?  This continues the trend related to the expansion of duty of care – particularly for remote workers.  

Since the pandemic, complexity has risen in two dimensions:  

  1. The frequency and variety of events (not just shootings – but winter weather in the northeast, and California flooding last week). 
  2. The persistence of the hybrid and remote work models.  

The Events

  • The week started with an active shooter entering Lakewood Church in Houston on Sunday, February 11. The suspect was shot and killed by off-duty officers working security at the church. 
  • On Monday, February 12, as commuters made their way home from work, six people were shot at a subway station in Bronx, NYC – likely gang related. 
  • During the Super Bowl parade on Wednesday, February 14, gun violence near Union Station in Kansas City left one person dead and dozens injured.   
  • Later, again on Wednesday, February 14, a drive-by shooting injured four students at Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta 

Implications for Risk Managers

How do we as risk managers maintain a culture of care and responsibility while also respecting the privacy of employees during their off time? What are the expectations related to employees’ locations, in addition to monitoring all incidents – domestically?  Globally? How can we as practitioners be the source of truth for employees and executives? How does monitoring incidents outside of the workplace improve my company’s resilience?  

Here are four recommended frameworks to get started.  

Organizational Culture: the line between employees’ work and private life is increasingly blurry. An organization’s culture should shape a customized approach to this challenge. 

  • Engage often with management, HR partners, and employees to gather feedback on expectations, what is working well, and what feels invasive or unnecessary. 
  • Find the right blend of people, process, and technology that scales your company’s unique approach based on these expectations. 

Threat Location
: incident mapping software can be extremely useful in real-time to identify: 

  • the location where an incident is occurring; 
  • proximity to employees and assets; 
  • and proximity to key locations, such as transportation hubs, airports, ports, major roadways, or local schools, that may impact employees’ commute, travel, or ability to work.  
  • Being able to track an evolving threat over both space and time is key. News sources may only report one location, but an incident may occur in multiple locations over time. 

Threat severity:  risk intelligence can help in assessing the severity of a threat.

  • Assessing severity requires source veracity, dynamic monitoring, and contextualization. Every shooting is awful and bystander casualties are always possible. However, a shooting in a residential area may impact an organization differently than a shooting in a mall two blocks from the office.  
  • Severity is not a judgement of importance but rather a tool to efficiently manage critical events based on impact to the company. 

Communicate Impact, and Support:
mass notifications during critical events improves resiliency by empowering employees and managers with information.  

  • With timely, relevant, and accurate information, we can limit downstream impacts an incident would otherwise have on the company.  
  • For example, after receiving an alert notice, an executive takes a different route to the office and keeps the client meeting. 
  • An airline anticipates its pilots may be delayed getting to the airport in the wake of a major tornado that damaged infrastructure and closed local schools. 
  • Anticipating a port closure, a supply chain manager avoids delays by diverting shipment via an alternate route.  
  • After a reported school lockdown, a manager offers support for an employee whose child attends the school. 

Even with these frameworks, the mission can feel daunting and the path forward unclear. If you’d like to continue this discussion, provide feedback, or are looking for assistance, OnSolve is here to help. 

(Information cut-off date 1000 PT, February 15, 2024) 

Nick Hill

Nick Hill is Senior Analyst, Global Risk and Intelligence Services, where he drives intelligence analysis and services implementation to help customers mitigate dynamic risks and strengthen organizational resilience. Prior to his current role, Nick led product development and services implementation for a physical security provider leveraging AI to improve critical incident management. Nick is a former security manager overseeing travel risk management, risk intelligence, and global security operations, and previously served in the Marine Corps overseeing strategic intelligence analysis and production. For more real-time risk and resilience insights follow Nick on LinkedIn.