Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Keep your employees motivated with these 4 suggestions

It can often be challenging to motivate employees when you’re running a small business. Resources are limited, and time is incredibly valuable. Incentives are critical when it comes to motivation, however; finding cheap and easy incentives is vital.
There are a number of ways to motivate employees that don’t include things like big bonuses or expensive benefits. A hand-written thank you letter can go a long way when it comes to showing employee appreciation. Here are a few other ideas:
1. Ask for input
It means a great deal to most employees to know that their thoughts and opinions are considered. By asking for input and implementing the best suggestions, you are showing them that you cherish their opinions and that they play a significant role in the company.
2. Change it up
Sometimes boredom occurs when employees fall into a rut. By mixing up their projects and responsibilities, and allowing them to show off their skills, you are likely to spark a little inspiration that wasn’t there before.
3. Focus on a great company culture
Some of the best companies to work at are those that employees feel are unique. Developing a great company culture can actually be quite simple and may help you to find and keep strong employees. A game room where employees can take a break and decompress when they’re feeling burned out can do wonders.
4. Recognize people for a job well done
One of the biggest de-motivators can be toiling away on something and feeling like nobody is even aware of your hard work. For this reason, it’s necessary to let employees know that you recognize their hard work and appreciate it.
Something as simple as discussing their accomplishments at a company-wide meeting or sending around an email recognizing their triumphs can make them feel appreciated. Although they may avoid attention, they will likely be pleased to know that they’re being recognized.
All of these techniques are simple, affordable and can do wonders when it comes to motivating employees. Try out one or two of these ideas to see how they may affect employee morale and motivation.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

3 tips to keep your online identity safe

In light of the recent Playstation security breach, a lot of people are growing more concerned over the privacy of their online identities. If your information gets into the wrong hands, the consequences can be damaging. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to ensure that your online identity is secure.
Use an encrypted connection
Using an encrypted connection is an extremely simple way to attain greater online security. Many websites, including most social networking sites, have recently adopted more secure connections, although you sometimes need to change the settings to get the extra level of security.
You may figure out whether or not you have encrypted access simply by checking the URL. If the URL begins with “https” instead of “http” you have an encrypted connection. Unfortunately, some sites do not offer encrypted access so this is not always a possibility.
Use strong passwords
Strong passwords are unbelievably easy to create and can make a tremendous difference in online security. Using a combination of numbers, symbols, spaces and upper- and lowercase letters can help to create a strong password. If you can’t see yourself using a lot of different characters, at least be sure to use a password that can’t easily be guessed.
Also, utilizing a unique password for each site is critical. If you use the same password for multiple sites and one of those sites is hacked, you could be opening up all of your other accounts to hackers as well.
Look out for phishing
Phishing is an extremely common practice because it so often works to help hackers obtain sensitive information. It is basically when a hacker poses as a reliable business, such as a bank, to try to get your passwords, account numbers or usernames.
The recent breach of Epsilon was a prime example. Thousands of names and email addresses were exposed and the companies affected immediately sent out emails telling their clients not to trust any emails that claimed to be from them. Some browsers, but not all, will alert you if a website looks fraudulent, but you still need to be smart to avoid the scams.
All of these tips are unbelievably easy to follow and can make a huge difference when it comes to online security. Now, if it’s ATM security you’re looking for, Synergistics Premier Banking is the way to go. Go to and check out some of the products.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Five Reasons Every Business Should Audit Their Security Once a Year.

Determining the appropriate level of ongoing security for your specific business can be difficult. Proactively combating the rapidly changing risk landscape merits a periodic, if not real-time analysis of the best use of security systems, risk mitigation strategies and services. Many business owners struggle to find time to schedule meetings with their security professional, while others only thoroughly audit their security programs before the initial installation of a security system or if there has been a breach. However, making the time to conduct a periodic review of all security programs, plans and protocols can help you identify the areas of your business that could benefit from increased security and may even help you decrease your exposure to risks. There are many factors that can affect the overall effectiveness of a security solution. That’s why it is suggested that growing companies perform a comprehensive review of their security programs at least once a year. According to The Integrated Physical Security Handbook, “During the risk and threat assessment phases of developing an IPS (Integrated Physical Security) plan, you frequently discover areas of vulnerability that can be remedied and practices that can be improved. This can lead to improved productivity and efficiency and has an ongoing impact on your bottom line.”
1. Evolving Business Environments:
When most companies grow, they experience an influx of property, assets and personnel. These expansions can directly affect the level of physical security needed to help protect assets, employees, visitors and customers. Annual audits performed by qualified security professionals are generally sufficient, unless a significant change is planned or made that could affect liability, risk exposure, physical security or safety.

Whether you are re-evaluating risk levels after a security related event, establishing new business locations or making any major (non-cosmetic) renovations to an existing facility, it is recommended that you call your security professional to determine if any changes to your security system are advisable. Contacting them as soon as possible can help you address any security short falls or needed modifications to your security program.
Benefits of assessing security systems when changes are made to the business environment include:
  • Maintaining a seamless security presence when changing physical locations.
  • Protecting high-value items when modifying product mix and adding new partners or vendors.
  • Being aware that even slight changes to your customer experience can affect your overall security needs.
  • Keeping current on technology innovations, such as video monitoring solutions, and emerging technologies that can help you maintain control over your most valuable assets.
  • Controlling access to sensitive areas, computer servers, data and equipment in order to help comply with data and physical security aspects of governmental regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
2. Updated Recommendations for Emergency Planning:
Potential emergencies and threats facing businesses change every year and can increase in frequency and severity. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the number of declared major disasters nearly doubled in the 1990s compared to the previous decade.2

To help protect lives, assets and business continuity, proactive planning of emergency procedures is of the highest importance. In fact, in the financial services industry, BCRP (Business Continuity Recovery Planning) is a regulatory requirement. Threats can come from a variety of sources and can also be industry-specific. An experienced security professional typically has the knowledge and resources to aid businesses in selecting security solutions that support emergency planning programs.

All companies should, at the very least, have a written emergency plan to address emergency situations including those caused by weather, acts of God, terrorism, power outages, pandemics and manmade disasters. The two main goals of these plans are typically focused on readiness and recovery. Determining your readiness and establishing the important components of a recovery plan should be an integral part of a security assessment.

The Department of Homeland Security also recommends that fire safety be a major priority within all emergency plans. Proper planning for fire emergencies may save lives, prevent severe property destruction and enable businesses to recover more quickly.

Fire and life safety planning begins with a thorough inspection of your facilities by a professional specifically trained in fire safety and prevention. This professional can provide valuable assistance in helping you identify potential risks and select the best options for your business type, location, local regulations and square footage.

Some fires can be avoided or their impact lessened by installation of prevention and mitigation systems. Other fire solutions may include detection and containment components required for your type of business and type of premises. These components may include: fire doors, hoses, fire extinguishers, sirens, monitors, sprinklers and smoke alarms, critical system monitoring and emergency alert systems.

A comprehensive security plan may help:
  • Identify risks, vulnerabilities and gaps in the current emergency plan and procedures.
  • Facilitate compliance with regulatory fire codes and requirements — through installation, maintenance and updates for appropriate fire and life safety equipment and systems.
  • Develop an inspection schedule for fire equipment to help identify equipment gaps and evaluate updates.
  • Provide insight into new technologies such as emergency notification alert systems — to aid in warning and protecting employees.
  • Enhance a company’s ability to recover from a disaster by helping minimize financial losses due to criminal activity and potential damage to critical equipment and infrastructure.
  • Limit potential exposure to civil/criminal liability.
  • Enhance a company’s image and credibility with employees, customers, suppliers and the community.
  • Reduce insurance premiums by demonstrating company emergency and disaster readiness.
  • Assess regional risk levels and identify peer company’s strategies, enabling a balanced approach to risk management.
3. Trends in Workplace Violence:
Despite efforts to reduce it, workplace violence is a growing threat and an important security risk for businesses to consider.

In fact, a recent survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, “Of those establishments reporting an incident of workplace violence in the previous 12 months, 21 percent reported that the incident affected the fear level of their employees and 21 percent indicated that the incident affected their employees’ morale.”

Because workplace violence can strike any business, anywhere, at any time, business owners and managers must now consider the residual effects an incident can have on their business. According to Preventing Violence in the Workplace, “Losses in productivity occur throughout the enterprise with decreases of up to 80 percent for up to two weeks immediately after the incident.”

An up-to-date workplace violence plan should, as a priority, communicate a zero tolerance policy from management and include guidance on assessing physical security, emergency preparedness training programs, and policies and procedures for dealing with potential threats and situations.

A comprehensive security plan may help:
  • Potential risks and vulnerabilities and other areas of concerns and opportunity.
  • Whether or not an unauthorized person could be prevented from entering the workplace or particular work areas.
  • How controlling access to sensitive areas can help protect valuable assets and intellectual property.
  • Ways to help reduce liability by using surveillance of public areas.
  • How technologies such as video surveillance and video auditing can help identify risky behavior patterns before they escalate into events.
4. New Governmental Codes and Regulations:
Keeping up with changes in business trends as well as federal, state and local governmental regulatory compliance thresholds can feel overwhelming to many business owners. A trained security professional can help your compliance team identify and develop security solutions to help you create a responsive security compliance plan.

An annual security review can help you identify areas within your compliance program that may benefit from enhancements to your existing security plan, such as:
  • Products and services that can help limit physical access to critical areas such as employee and customer data centers, record storage rooms and company accounting areas. This can help address financial regulations such as SOX and other governmental regulations.
  • Video surveillance and monitoring systems that can help you audit incoming shipments, monitor storage areas, waste removal and areas where hazardous materials are used or stored. These systems may be helpful in keeping current with certain regulations from OSHA and DHS.
  • Access control systems that can help reduce the potential for security breaches by controlling access to record storage areas. Video recording systems can also aid in documenting employee compliance to policies, procedures and governmental regulations such as HIPPA and privacy laws.
  • Video recordings of actual events can serve to educate employees about risky work behaviors and can also be instrumental in showing what actually occurred. Such recordings may also help with workers’ compensation claims and OSHA safety regulations.
5. Improvements in Security Technologies:
One of the most significant security trends to emerge over the past five years has been the convergence of IT and physical security solutions, which has helped fuel further development of web-based applications. There are now more tools available than ever before to help business people manage their security programs.

At the same rate that Internet technologies, digital technologies and “smart applications” are being developed, so are their security counterparts. These smarter systems are helping to provide better, more comprehensive security solutions while giving more freedom and flexibility to the users. Security professionals are trained every year on new and emerging applications and technologies and how they can be used to help businesses succeed.

The benefits of these technologies that may come to light during discussions and the walk-through components of an annual security audit may include:
  • Identifying areas where intrusion detection, video surveillance and access control systems can interface with each other.
  • The ability to provide audit trails, exception reports and off-site monitoring of critical areas, which are now much easier to accomplish because they are database-driven and network-delivered.
  • The use of video, access, intrusion detection and GPS monitoring security solutions to help reduce risks associated with having an ever-increasing amount of company data being stored on desktop and laptop computers.
  • Areas where video monitoring could be used as a tool to help improve employee productivity and customer service as well as documenting compliance with company policies and procedures. Cameras could monitor and record activity in areas such as break rooms, docks and warehouses, vendor areas, secured areas and cash registers.
  • More efficient use of time, money and space provided through the use of digital video recorders (DVR), that typically allow for easy retrieval of event-based data. The data recorded by DVRs can be very helpful when it is important to be able to quickly send photos and other pertinent data to local public safety organizations, such as the police and fire department.
  • Effective use of access control systems and efficiencies possible with database-driven systems that can accommodate personnel changes and other challenges (such as time clock auditing and movement throughout a facility or near secured areas).
About Synergistics Premier BankingSynergistics Premier Banking, since 1960, is an innovator in providing complete access control systems through the use of advanced cardholder technology.  Synergistics Premier Banking created the first ATM access control system. Servicing industries and organizations requiring varying levels of restricted entry for the past 50 years, Synergistics Premier Banking is large enough to meet all of your banking access control needs, but small enough to offer customized solutions and service. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

5 approaches to a greener business

Being green is an excellent way to help the environment as well as save some money. Fortunately, turning your office into a green one is not very hard to do. Here are some simple tips for making your office greener.
1.    Use double-sided printing whenever possible
Set your printer or copier’s default setting to double-sided printing to automatically cut down on paper use. This is a simple step and if anyone needs single-sided printing they can easily change the settings.
2.    Use a water delivery service
Bottled water is incredibly wasteful, and unfortunately is prevalent in most offices. Using a water delivery service gives your employees the option to drink clean water without wasting all that plastic and suffering from the possible health effects of bottled water.
3.    Turn lights and machines off when they’re not being used
Although this may seem like an obvious way to be eco-friendly, many people overlook its necessity. Some people think that it’s more efficient to leave computers and other machines on overnight, but it’s far more wasteful than anything else. If you can afford to install motion sensors, they are always a great option as well.
4.    Use recycled and recyclable products when you can
Almost any paper product is available in recycled versions at major office supply retailers. While they’re much better for the environment, they are generally comparable in price to non-recycled versions.
Also, if you must use disposable plates and cups, try to find recyclable or compostable options. It’s not enough to simply buy recyclable products, it’s important to have an easy-to-follow recycling program. Stress to your employees the importance of recycling those products, otherwise there’s a good chance they’ll end up in the trash.
5.    Cut down on commuting
Organizing carpools is rather easy to do. Simply match people up based on where they live. If you can, offer parking incentives to those who carpool. If your town has public transportation systems, try offering a bus or train pass to employees who can use those systems.
These are all simple and inexpensive ways to make your office greener and to ensure that your business has less of an impact on the environment.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Can Facebook Help Law Enforcement and Security Efforts?

With all the dangers from social networking now being reported by CSOs, there can also be a good side. For example, the FBI said on April 19 a man charged with robbing five Detroit-area banks was caught after investigators matched him to photos on Facebook. The man was indicted April 19, two months after his arrest on a criminal complaint. He is accused of stealing $6,300 during five bank robberies from October through January. An FBI agent said a tipster called after seeing bank surveillance photos. The tipster offered the man’s name, and the FBI found his profile photo on Facebook. The FBI says there were Facebook photos of the 25-year-old man wearing the same clothes that were worn during a robbery. The suspected robber has been free on bond since his arrest.