(What’s it like on the front line supporting the firm’s clients?  What are the challenges the firm’s experts help senior business executives, general counsel, board members and other decision-makers address?  Welcome to ACTION WEDNESDAY.  Every Wednesday, the Front Line Blog publishes a new case study.)

Workforce Protection Becomes a Top Priority


The Global Security Director put it succinctly. “We recognize that gauging the potential workforce-related threats and vulnerabilities across our branch offices is crucial to preventing an intentional act of violence,” he said. “Workforce protection is now a critical priority for our business.  While we have not had a violent event up to now, I want to make sure that we develop the capability to identify and mitigate any threat early enough to prevent harm to our people, our operations and our brand.” He looked across the table at me. “Where do we begin?”

From Needs Assessment to Pilot

Hillard Heintze led the design and execution of a three-phased plan workforce protection plan. Over the next several weeks, its threat assessment experts first undertook a detailed needs analysis based on the company’s capability strengths and weaknesses. After uncovering several vulnerabilities, Hillard Heintze made recommendations on issues such as (1) who should participate on the company’s threat assessment team, (2) what kind of staffing was needed, (3) how new investigators would learn and experienced investigators teach, and (4) what balance of specialized threat assessment expertise and general investigative experience would work best, among many other factors. In the second phase, the Hillard Heintze team customized a one-day training curriculum on threat assessment for the company’s key internal stakeholders – i.e., supervisors and managers from HR, compliance, legal and security as well as from various operating units and geographical divisions. Finally, they worked closely with the company’s leadership team and functional heads on planning a four-city pilot training program for rollout over the next business quarter.

A Wealth of Outcomes

This company is further ahead than its comparably sized competitors in addressing the risks associated with workforce protection and violence prevention. As its Chief Security Officer explained, “The benefits actually extend beyond this particular risk-based focus. We believe that a vibrant, happy workforce lies at the center of our financial success and operating performance year after year. Doing the right thing in workforce protection is just one of the ways we’re advancing our business.”

Unplugged: The Project Manager’s Perspective

“Our training team on this engagement includes Hillard Heintze threat assessment experts and partners with an exceptional base of experience. They’ve trained the front-line teams at the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Capitol Police, and the CIA as well as major companies like Time Warner, Ernst & Young, General Dynamics, PBS, Fidelity Investments and many others.”

The ACTION WEDNESDAY Tool Box: Three Key Take-Aways

1.  Understand your needs – before you commit to any plan: Your requirements will be very different than those at other companies.  Multiple factors must be considered in tailoring a workplace protection plan that aligns with your requirements.  Make sure the team you engage does their homework.

2.  Engage multiple internal and external stakeholders in your program: The most effective workforce protection initiatives mandate active and continuous engagement from representatives of multiple functions and departments, including HR, IT, compliance, legal and security.  Get the right people at the table.

3.  Train. Educate. Communicate: The best plans fail because no one reads them.  Embed a working knowledge of your program – at some level, as appropriate – across your entire workforce.