Begin safety conversation before crisis occurs

By Kim Shindle | Sept. 30, 2014 | 3 min. read

Tracey Hawkins
Tracey Hawkins

Workplace safety plans help protect your business but most real estate companies and associations don’t have them in place, according to Tracey Hawkins of Safety and Security Source.

“As a former real estate agent, I know that most people believe it won’t happen to them… until it does,” she said. “No one ever thinks to have a plan in place.”

Hawkins said businesses should talk to staff members about what to do when a disgruntled client or agent comes in to the office. What should the receptionist do or say? “You can’t think clearly in a crisis, you need to have a safety plan in place beforehand,” Hawkins said. “You should outline how to get out of a situation and understand the types of scenarios that might happen.”

All too often the safety conversation begins only after a tragedy happens nearby. “No one reacts or thinks of a plan until something bad happens,” she said. “When news of an attack is covered, that’s when people begin thinking about how they would react to the situation.”

Two million people are affected by workplace violence every year. “I like to encourage people to start the conversation before something occurs,” she said. “Safety awareness and the safety culture begins with the people who work in your building. It’s important to establish an environment where no level of violence will be tolerated.”

Hawkins offers these tips for a safer office:

  • Meet with your employees and outline office safety procedures, including the storage of valuables during office hours. Agents and staff need to be reminded to keep handbags, electronic devices and financial data out of sight. Clients, service people, contractors and many more have access to the office. Careless behavior increases agent vulnerability.
  • Discuss office anti-bullying and anti-violence rules. Let agents and staff know that any kind of bullying or harassment will not be tolerated. Define what that entails for your office. Have a written plan and disciplinary procedures in place. Enforce discipline without fail. This offers some protection from liability and sets the tone for office morale and behavior.

“Real estate is a high risk occupation,” Hawkins said. “People often think that working at a convenience store is dangerous but real estate is just as dangerous. Sales offices have revolving doors with agents, staff members and the public coming in. Does your staff keep their valuables out where anyone walking through the office could take them or do they keep them out of sight?

“Discussing safety plans helps make your agents and employees more vigilant and helps prepare them in the event of an emergency,” Hawkins added.

Hawkins will highlight office safety plans during her presentation “Why You Need to Create a Workplace Safety Plan TODAY!” at the Triple Play Realtors® Convention in Atlantic City, December 8-11. She will present two other sessions: “Protecting Your Business, Employees and Property” and “Work and Grow your Business Safely Online: Social Media, Internet, Tech and Smart Phone Safety.”

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