Promoting staff vigilance highlights the importance that all members of your organisation play in keeping the aviation sector safe.

Vigilance is about supporting your staff to be additional ‘eyes and ears’ of your organisation. A vigilant security culture, where staff are alert, aware and empowered to respond to security issues, reinforces the protective barrier that staff present, deters potential threat actors from undertaking harmful acts, increases chance of detection, and reinforces positive security behaviours in the workplace. Vigilant staff are better equipped to identify security issues, engage with those breaching security, and to report behaviours of concern. Vigilant staff pay attention to their surroundings and are supported by their organisation to advocate for good security practice.

Empower your staff

Staff need to feel empowered to be vigilant. Empowered staff understand their environment, the threats they face, and potential security risks in their workplace. Empowered staff are less likely to become complacent or consider that they have no role to play in security, but instead comprehend the complexity of the security environment beyond those risks that may be most obvious. Staff should also have knowledge of the security system as whole: knowing their role in the wider picture can help them contextualise their contributions and understand how they can help. Staff who are empowered and motivated are your organisation’s greatest security asset.

Empower your staff by:

  • Offering staff briefings or tours of the security aspects of your organisation. Introduce them to security staff to add to their overall understanding of the whole security system and show them in practice how they can help protect the aviation system.
  • Using repeat messages, briefings, and reminders to educate staff on threats and risks. Staff who understand their environment, including the nature of the threats and risks they are trying to protect against, will be more energised to practice positive security behaviours.
  • Encouraging staff to proactively advance positive security behaviours, including challenging those who are not complying with security policies and procedures in the right way. A workplace where staff feel equipped to respectfully speak out when they observe poor security practice demonstrates that good security is at the core of how work is done.

Staff are alert and aware

To demonstrate vigilance, staff need to be alert to their surroundings and aware of all the behaviours of concern that they are required to be on notice for. The presence of staff who appear alert to their surroundings is an effective deterrent to wrongdoing, and broad awareness of behaviours that are out of the ordinary will allow staff to recognise when something is not right. A security culture where all your staff—not just those with security roles—are alert and aware, multiplies the number of people on the ground who can detect potential threats or risks.

Encourage awareness by:

  • Conducting regular education sessions on what staff need to look out for in your context. This can include easy things to look out for, for example, people loitering near entrances to restricted areas, unattended bags, or inappropriate approaches, that need to be reported. Staff who are aware can develop a ‘gut instinct’ that something may be wrong. They should be encouraged to trust this instinct and report their concerns.
  • Using posters and signage in prominent positions around your workplace to remind staff to remain alert and aware. Include contact details on posters so that staff or visitors know how to report their concerns.

Staff are equipped

Equip your staff with all the resources they need to be vigilant and to reinforce a positive security culture. Ensure they know who to approach if they have any questions or concerns with their responsibilities.

Ensure staff:

  • Have a toolkit of resources they can draw on to enable their vigilance. This might include instructions on what to say or do when challenging suspicious security activities. A simple, polite question (‘Can I help you?’) is sometimes all staff need to do to detect potential security issues.
  • Have phone numbers of key points of contact on hand to enable them to report and follow up quickly if they need to. This might mean programming key numbers into phones, placing a number readily available near a phone, or program a speed dial. Simple measures like this ensure staff are well equipped to act if needed.
  • Are prepared in a way that is relevant to their role. Staff with specific security positions require clear guidelines on their roles and responsibilities, and your organisation’s policies and procedures when responding to security issues.

Staff are supported

Vigilance should be endorsed from the top of your organisation and embedded as an expectation of staff and as part of your security culture. Organisational support for staff will help them to feel supported when they act or speak out when something is not right and will help staff know that they are acting consistently with organisational principles, even if they feel uncomfortable. Staff who are supported by the organisation to act with confidence when undertaking security responsibilities can strengthen the security culture of the whole organisation.

Support your staff:

  • Written communications from senior managers are essential to connect staff to the organisation and remind them of the actions they can undertake to be secure and vigilant.
  • Management should be seen to support initiatives that empower staff to be vigilant. This means following security policies themselves, and supporting staff when they follow organisational policies and procedures relating to security. Security must be seen by all staff to apply to everyone, at all levels of the organisation, including the executive.
  • Staff should have clear guidance, policies, and procedures to refer to when making security related decisions. Knowing exactly what procedures to follow allows staff to act with the confidence they need and be assured that their actions will be supported by the organisation.

Assess your staff vigilance [PDF 85 KB]


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