Top 5 risks of having an outdated visitor management policy

Jun 20, 2024
In this post, we go over the top 5 consequences of relying on an antiquated visitor management policy and some things to consider when developing a new one.
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The proliferation of workplace threats has prompted massive changes to the very nature of visitor management. Security breaches, both physical and virtual, are costing billions of dollars in revenue loss, either through fines for not following compliance regulations or direct revenue hits from churned customers who lost trust. One in four businesses worldwide saw their value decline due to security incidents.

Adding to these growing headaches is the rise of distributed workforces. Standardizing, deploying, and scaling a visitor management policy across all your locations introduces its own set of complications. Overlapping compliance standards and region-specific regulations create several hoops to jump through. And if you manage multiple locations, specific security needs can vary, making it even more challenging to standardize your approach.

But regardless of whether you're a manufacturer with dozens of plants or an enterprise business with multiple locations worldwide, you'll need a policy in place. One that ensures not only the safety of employees and assets but also enhances the overall operational efficiency and compliance with regulatory standards.

Consequences of having an antiquated visitor management policy

A visitor management policy outlines who is allowed onsite, when they can be there, and which areas they can access. Companies may have different policies for each type of visitor. For instance, a manufacturer may require contractors to sign certain safety waivers, while job candidates might have to sign an NDA upon checking in.

Relying on an outdated visitor policy, can lead to significant risks for workplaces, including:

1. Security attacks and breaches

Over half of businesses are experiencing an increase in the number and severity of security attacks. Unmonitored visitors can lead to unauthorized access to sensitive areas, increasing the risk of theft, data hacks, or, in some extreme cases, acts of violence. Security attacks can have severe consequences, including financial loss, damage to reputation, and potential legal issues. They often lead to disruptions to business operations, erode employee trust, and require costly recovery efforts.

2. Exacerbating an emergency situation

Without a reliable method to track visitors and collect their contact information, it becomes more challenging to identify who's onsite and communicate with them during an emergency. First-response teams also need accurate data to locate and assist visitors who might be injured, or else the process can be delayed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states, "treatment of a serious injury should begin within three to four minutes" after an accident has occurred.

3. Fines for non-compliance

Compliance regulations often require businesses to maintain accurate visitor logs for security and emergency purposes. In the absence of a standardized policy, companies may fail to collect proper visitor info, including entry and exit data and contact details. The end result? Workplaces can face fines for non-compliance with data protection regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—fines can be as high as €10 million.

Additionally, regulations such as California Senate Bill 553 (SB 553) require businesses operating within the state to establish workplace violence prevention plans (WVPPs). These plans must include specific procedures for managing workplace violence, including threats from visitors, contractors, and even outsiders without direct connections to the company. Fines for violating SB 553 start at $18,000 and rise to $25,000 per violation.

4. Dependence on inefficient, manual processes

Not having a standardized visitor management policy can lead to workplaces relying on antiquated pen-and-paper processes. A manual approach invites greater room for human error that could lead to security and compliance risks that automated/digitized methods can prevent. This negatively impacts several areas:

  1. Longer wait times at the front desk. Without a streamlined check-in workflow, your staff may have to log each visitor's information and verify their identity manually.
  2. Lackluster visitor experience. The lack of a standardized policy creates an inconsistent and often cumbersome experience, leading to a poor first impression for your visitors.
  3. More work for employees. Manual processes increase the workload for front desk staff, who must handle check-ins, verify identities, and maintain records. 

5. Negative impact on brand reputation 

Not having a standardized visitor management policy can severely damage a business's brand reputation. Businesses may appear disorganized and careless without one, which can erode trust among potential customers, employees, and even shareholders.

  1. Impact on potential customers. If a business fails to manage visitor access effectively, it can create a negative perception, leading potential customers to choose competitors who demonstrate better safety and organization.
  2. Impact on potential employees. Job seekers often research companies before applying (e.g., Glassdoor reviews). A company known for lax security and poor visitor management might deter top talent from joining, fearing for their safety and the company's stability.
  3. Impact on stock price. Shareholders are always concerned with a company's overall risk management and reputation. Incidents due to poor visitor management can lead to negative publicity, affecting the company's stock price and investors' confidence. According to a recent report, companies saw, on average, a 29% drop in stock price in the wake of a significant internal or external security incident.

5 considerations when setting up your visitor management policy

Whether you’re building a visitor policy from the ground up or updating an existing one, you should keep a few things in mind.

  1. Set site-specific security requirements. Customizing security measures to match a building's design and needs is crucial but can be complicated. This could include deploying a virtual front desk, using biometric systems for access control, and setting up an advanced visitor management system (VMS). These systems should be able to track everyone coming in and out, work well with other security systems, and provide detailed reports for compliance checks and audits.
  2. Decide if your front desk will be staffed. Consider your volume of visitors and your specific security needs when making this decision. A staffed front desk can provide a personal touch and handle complex visitor issues more effectively. On the flip side, an unstaffed front desk might rely more on automated systems such as Envoy’s virtual front desk, which can be paired with static QR codes and self-service kiosks. These systems can make check-ins more efficient and consistent while reducing staffing costs.
  3. Identify your visitor types. Figure out the different kinds of visitors your facility may have, like contractors, vendors, job candidates, or customers. The information you capture and access levels you provide may vary based on each guest’s reason for visiting. Knowing these differences helps you tailor security measures and make the check-in process smoother.
  4. Maintain a detailed log of all visitor entries and exits. Determine the information you need to collect from visitors for auditing purposes, such as their name, contact details, purpose of visit, areas accessed, and duration of stay. Detailed records are crucial for checking security measures and proving compliance with safety standards.
  5. Establish procedures for identity verification. This could include checking a government-issued ID or performing background checks. Many visitor management systems can connect with identity screening software like Visual Compliance to make this process smoother. Some modern solutions even come with photo capture and facial recognition capabilities, which can further streamline identity checks.

Tying it together with a visitor management system 

Since your business is constantly evolving, so should your approach to security and visitor management. Visitor management systems are crucial for dealing with increasing complexity, offering integrated solutions that connect smoothly across various platforms and devices. More than just an operational upgrade, a VMS is a strategic step towards a more streamlined, cost-effective, and efficient business ecosystem.

Are you establishing policies and procedures in a new location? Check out our step-by-step guide, which maps out the action items that IT and physical security teams must complete and account for during new deployments.

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AUTHOR BIO
Content Marketing Manager

Giulianno Lopez is a Content Marketing Manager here at Envoy, where he specializes in crafting content centered around workplace security and compliance. When he's not working, you can find him at Golden Gate Park training for his next race.

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