Aggression and safety at work

May 2021

Tackling aggression at work

Covid and the measures it comes with are definitely putting a heavy burden on our society. Our stress levels are a whole lot higher, and our security guards in shopping malls in particular are very aware of this. When calling clients to account about non-compliance with rules (incorrect wearing of face mask, insufficient distancing,…), they are more and more faced with verbal and/or physical aggression. In 2020, close to 40 incidents were reported by SERIS security guards, but the real number of incidents is probably a lot higher.

As a security company, the absolute priority for SERIS is the safety of their staff. Therefore, SERIS set up the working group “Aggression at Work”. The purpose of this working group is fourfold:


The first purpose is to obtain a clear insight into the number of incidents that occur. Via the NTC, our staff have a low-threshold possibility to report verbal and non-verbal aggression continuously. These reports are monitored by the Internal Department for Prevention and Protection at Work.


Then, it is also important that the agents know how to tackle the different types of aggression. Staying calm is paramount for a good outcome, but this is not always obvious. Therefore, we are using the “train the trainer” principle to organise training where real-life cases are used as references.


Training alone is not enough. Continuous awareness programmes are important. Therefore, we deploy coaches who support our agents constantly in tackling aggression.


Optimizing after-care in the event of an aggression incident. When someone was subjected to aggressive behaviour, this can have all kinds of unpleasant effects. Therefore, legal and psychological support is required. Sometimes, the aggressor files a complaint against the agent, with the risk for the agent to have their identification card withdrawn. In such a case, they receive specialised advice about their rights and obligations. Our staff are trained, but aggression can have a serious psychological impact on an agent. In such cases, SERIS provide for psychological support via an external partner.

Our agents can rest assured: if one of them is the subject of physical aggression, SERIS will always lodge a civil claim. In legal proceedings too, we support our people 100%.

In places where many people gather, safety always plays a prominent role. Think of events. It is the task of our security agents to call people to account when they do something that can threaten safety, and therefore, they are the first point of call in the event of disagreements or frustrations. As part of Safety at Work and the creation of a safe work environment, it is paramount that we teach our agents how to tackle such situation in a constructive and knowledgeable manner.