Being Prepared: The Harsh Reality of Active Shooter Emergency Training

By: Guest Writer
First Things First: Survival Tips for an Active Shooter Scenario in the Workplace

As kids of the 20th century, there were certain “Golden Rules” that were engrained in us from a very early age; like “Stop, Drop and Roll” and “Don’t get into cars with strangers.” In today’s climate, there’s a new one to add to the list: “Run, Hide, Fight.” The scary reality is that the U.S. averages 20 mass shootings a year and since 2006, the United States has averaged an active shooter event with four or more deaths every 2.9 months. How a person responds in the event of gun violence could affect their ability to survive. Just like fire drills, you need to have a plan in place should an active shooter situation arises in your workplace (or elsewhere).

So what does “Run. Hide. Fight” actually mean? This mantra gives us a list of responses to utilize, and the best order to take should you be faced with an active shooter incident.

1. RUN – This should be the first option!
• Do what you can to get out.
• Do your best to stay calm and visualize your movements before making them.
• As you leave, use verbal and non-verbal cues to help others be alerted and escape as well.
2. HIDE – Get out of sight!
• You may not always have the option to get out of the building. In these situations, you need to secure your location.
• Lock doors, turn off lights, and silence your cell phones. Do everything that you can to make it appear that you are not there at all.
• When possible, push heavy furniture in front of doors that open in. For doors that open out, use straps or belts to secure the door shut.
• Use anything you can to conceal yourself!
3. FIGHT – Fight for your life!
• If running and hiding are not an option, you need to protect yourself. – Remember, you have the right to live.
• Look for anything that you can use as a weapon – this could be heavy equipment, a fire extinguisher – anything that will give you an advantage.
• Remember there are strength in numbers, work as a group if you have people with you.
Active shooter training is not something that most employers consider when preparing for the new year, or conducting your required sexual harassment training for supervisors (which is mandated for every two years in the state of California and varies across the states). Why not include Active Shooter Training into your to-do list? Tips such as these can help your entire organization to feel more prepared, and therefore safer in the workplace.

Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Employees

1. Focus on the shooter’s points of weakness – affect his vision or his breathing or control the weapon. Hit him in vulnerable places – the eyes, throat, groin. This is not a fair fight, so make moves that count!
2. Typically, an active shooter incident is over within 10-15 minutes and response time for police is about 4-5 minutes. Knowing these steps could buy you the time needed.
3. When police arrive on scene:
a. Their #1 priority above everything else is to stop the threat. Medical attention for victims may be denied until the threat is neutralized.
b. During the incident, always follow the police officer’s instructions.
i. They are trained to look for your hands, so raise them to let them know you are not a threat.
ii. Be sure you are not holding anything that could look like a weapon (i.e. a cell phone).
iii. Don’t make any sudden moves or loud noises.
iv. Use hand signals to point if you have information on the shooter’s location.
4. Following the incident:
a. This could be a lengthy investigation process. Law enforcement will need to direct medical treatment, collect statements, and process evidence.
b. As an employer, know where your first aid kit is and who is trained in CPR and First Aid. Consider keeping snacks and water on hand for disasters such as earthquakes (just like the elementary schools require a disaster pack for the students – this is a great optional idea for employees to jump in and help!).
5. Take steps now to be prepared!
a. This is not a fun topic. It’s uncomfortable, but it is the reality of the world we live in today. Encourage discussion on this topic – talking is training!
b. Encourage employees and co-workers to trust their gut when something looks suspicious and to report what looks wrong to the necessary people. Set up a safety team within your workplace to address concerns.
c. Use a code word that alerts all staff that there is an intruder in the facility or a customer problem that is escalating.
d. Facility training can include designated locations for “shelter-in-place” events.
e. Consider hiring professional trainers who can prepare your organization for such disaster and emergency situations.
f. Recently, a trusted and valued colleague of Peoplescape attended a training provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in Los Angeles, California. They believe that this training is so critical, that the department has made it publicly available for free. To see the training video, visit
**Warning: The training video contains graphic content of a violent nature, Viewer discretion is advised.**

How Can You Grow Your Professional Network? Tips from @WomenofHR

“It’s not what you know, but who you know.” How true is this in business? I’d say from my experience that networking and knowing the right people can make a huge difference in the success of your business ventures, and the opportunities that you are given. Of course, with enough hustle and drive, you’ll land those same opportunities but it just might take a little more blood, sweat, tears, and TIME. In today’s world of instant gratification, constant communication, and a lack of patience, TIME is often one thing we don’t have enough of. Professional networking is a key piece to the puzzle of career success, so now is the time to make TIME for this on your calendar and here’s how to use networking to make the most of your opportunities in our crazy, fast-paced modern world.

1. Market yourself – what do you have to offer? What can other professionals gain from networking with you?
2. Know what outcome you desire – Understand what you can contribute as well as what you want to get out of the networking relationship.
3. Make a list of the key aspects of your goals – do you want international relationships with a global scope? Do you want key leaders or game changers in your network? Do you want a network of strong business leaders, HR leaders, or organizational design experts?
4. Be clear on your objectives – having a clear picture of the goals and objectives will be helpful in building your professional network.
5. It works if you work it – professional networks are a two-way street! Put into it what you want to get out of it!
6. Find the best ways for you to connect with people – For some, that might be Twitter. For others, it might be LinkedIn or Instagram. Depending on your product, your field, and your knowledge, you should be able to quickly decide which social media forum is best suited to meet your needs.
For more ideas on how to find success in business, check out the blog of one of our favorites @WomenofHR. We’ve found that following blogs that are in line with what we want to do and the message we have to share is one helpful way of networking as well. Happy hunting!

Is Your Data Secure? Workplace Worries for the Boss

As a boss, you are tasked with the not-so-fun chores of employee management, disciplinary action, reviewing what’s working and not working in your office, and implementing change even when your employees are not on board. As a boss, you are also the go-to person for complaints, concerns, and employee disputes. Guess what? We have one more thing to add to your list of workplace worries – data security and the use of cloud storage. Even if you don’t promote the use of cloud-based storage company-wide, chances are your employees are utilizing it. Why? Because it’s easy, it’s useful, and it’s efficient for sharing information across devices and locations.

But what are the risks of using cloud-based storage? Here are a few things to consider when making use of these new technologies in the workplace.

1. Last October, user names and passwords for over 7 million people were compromised on Dropbox. Utilizing services such as this does open up the company for potential leaks of vulnerable information.
2. Misappropriation of information is also a real threat in the case of utilizing cloud-based storage. Employees who are getting ready to leave the company could be taking information that they shouldn’t have access to once they are gone. Downloading information to a non-work device, printing from a home printer, or sharing files outside of the workplace has potential risks as well.
3. E-Discovery is a nightmare!! Trying to subpoena records for cloud-based systems or Google or Facebook is a huge mess for everyone involved. Nothing comes easily, and the dates of access and user access information can easily be switched or hidden from the investigation with enough internet savvy or hacking knowledge.

So what can you do to make better use of the tools at your disposal while still protecting the company? Consider using cloud-based storage but also put policies into writing that each employee must agree to, so that your company information is protected at all times. In today’s workplace, there are so many potential risk factors, and increased technological worries for bosses. The most important thing for you to do as a boss is to educate yourself on what is out there for employees to use, and protect the company’s interest while still utilizing the technology and knowledge up for grabs.

How Do You Show Your Appreciation For Stellar Employees?

Employee appreciation day is officially sometime back in April….but we here at Peoplescape think that everyday should be a day that you are grateful for something. Granted, not every employer-employee relationship elicits unbridled gratitude every single day. But, there are many simple ways that you can show your appreciation for your employees all throughout the year, when the mood strikes!

1. Dump the dumb rules – What??? Are we calling all of your rules dumb? No, absolutely not. But…there are probably some silly ones in the office that you know and I know and your employees know are unnecessary. A note for every sick day? Tracking exempt employees’ hours even though their hours aren’t billed to clients? Business casual every day of the week? Whatever the rule may be, I know you have one in mind. Check it out with your HR department and legal counsel, and if it’s not needed, dump it! Your employees will love you…at least for a day or two!
2. Fire the horrible employee – As soon as you read this, a face popped into your mind. If he or she isn’t bringing anything beneficial to the table and you have documentation for years to back up your termination, just do it (again, double check with HR and/or legal to make sure you’re covered). Someone (or many someones) in your office are sure to be grateful for making the office a more enjoyable and productive place.
3. Acknowledge extra efforts – A simple thank you or 10-second recognition at the next staff meeting will go a long way.
4. Don’t play favorites – They all know who your favorites are when you have them. So don’t add fuel to the employee fire, and keep it fair across the board.
5. Listen to an idea – Open your ears, encourage innovation, and implement away!
6. Don’t hover – If an employee hasn’t given you a reason to micromanage, then don’t do it. Give them the breathing room to succeed.
7. Take responsibility – We are all human. We all make mistakes. Take responsibility for yours, and you will see a trend of employees following suit. Be the change you want to see in the world. #Gandhi
8. Support your employees – If the mistakes made are honest ones, then have your employee’s back. Support them through the tough times and see the good times come to life.
9. Give deserved raises and bonuses – Where the levels of success and productivity calls for it, reward your employees.
10. Be honest – There are a few things you can’t share with your employees. But the things that you can share, do. Transparency and honesty will go a long way in earning your employees’ loyalty and honesty in return.

Are Workplace Dress Code Policies Changing?

“Red Hat is an open organization, accepting of people and how they choose to express themselves. Whether you have tattoos or piercings, we want people to feel comfortable and free to be who they are here. In fact, we have at least three associates who are so passionate about our role in changing the world through open source technology they have gotten tattoos of our company logo: Shadowman. How many organizations can say the same?”

 Jim Whitehurst, President & CEO of Red Hat

Granted, all companies are not going to be quite so accepting of employees expressing themselves however they choose, whether that be with decorative facial piercings and neck tattoos or a casual dress code every day of the week (sweatshirts and flip-flops anyone?). But, it is clear that there has been a shift in the importance placed on traditional dress codes and personal appearance clauses in employee handbooks, as well as in the office itself. Gone are the days of suits and ties for most organizations, as more and more employees embrace body art in various forms and fashions. But what does this cultural shift mean for a traditional company who values the boundaries and lines drawn by dress code policies? What does this mean for hospitality organizations who must cater to a certain public and with that, a perception of who and what their employees represent?

While unemployment rates are still high, qualified candidates are able to be selective about the company they choose to work for. So what makes one company more desirable than another? For someone with extensive body art, perhaps a flexible dress code policy would be enticing when it comes to the company culture and extra benefits of the workplace. Leaders at Glassdoor note that they want their employees to be able to feel authentic at work, and not have to put on a front or cover things up. In order to encourage an environment that fosters creativity and authenticity, embracing your employees as they are is a step in the right direction.

However, 42% of people in the workforce today (according to a December 2015 survey by still believe tattoos should be covered up in the office. Of course, amongst the younger crown (18 – 25 year old employees) only 22% believe those tattoos should be covered. So times are changing, and the culture at work is shifting. But tread lightly, as anytime you draw a line in the sand, there will be someone there wanting to challenge the rules. Make sure anything you put in writing in your employee handbook or policy manual is backed by legislation and that you are not infringing on anyone’s personal rights of religious expression or stereotyping certain individuals.

For more on this controversial topic, check out the thoughts of one of our favorite bloggers @EvilHRLady Suzanne Lucas here: