Robbery Response Training: Training employees to respond to armed robbery at work

Robbery Response Training: Training employees to respond to armed robbery at work

Of all crimes that businesses face, robbery puts employees in most physical danger.

When I receive calls from HR personnel and employers after a robbery incident, a series of questions beckon answering. Should there be an immediate on-site intervention and what is it supposed to entail? Should we immediately offer counselling services or exercise watchful waiting? Should we encourage or ask employees to participate in a debriefing process or could it possibly make things worse? Is it best to just train managers in crisis management and provide them with guidelines on how to manage common behaviours and emotions following a workplace robbery?

However, the most frequent question has to do with employee training.

Why the need for training in robbery response behaviours?

Employee training is the most frequently implemented intervention component. Robbery is essentially a face-to face interaction so a worker’s behaviour may be the most significant factor in determining the extent of injury that may result during the robbery attempt.

When personnel know what to expect in an emergency situation and how to respond, they are more confident about their decision-making, better prepared and thus more likely to avoid over-reacting and under-reacting; both of which are potentially dangerous. 

Over-reactions may lead to casualties and under-reactions to the perils associated with not taking the signals seriously

Hence, training is also associated with reduced psychological trauma and the ability to return sooner to full productivity.

What does training involve? 

  • Information on how we physically and emotionally react both during and following a threatening event as is robbery. Being informed about our common reactions to uncommon traumas may help assuage fear. But – here comes a big but – this kind of information could actually worsen your staff’s post-traumatic reactions. There is a fine line between general information on reactions to traumatic incidents, including a possible discussion on how participants have experienced crises in the past (and what helped) and a suggestive list of anticipated reactions. A much more detailed description of this phenomenon can be found in the book along with specific guidelines.
  • What to specifically do during a robbery event at work and under what circumstances in particular. Staff learn which behaviours may trigger a spiral of dangerous offender behaviour and how to reduce this risk from occurring, which actions participants see as helpful but may actually have the opposite results, when to speak and when to keep silent, how to answer to offender questions and practical ways of managing their acting-out behaviour. 
  • Guidelines for better self-control and emotional management.
  • Action procedures to be followed in the event of a robbery and what to do that will facilitate offender apprehension without putting employees in any risk.
  • Updating or reminding staff about the company’s “non-resistance” policy regarding robbery incidents.
  • Information on the company’s emergency response plan (if you don’t have one, create one!).
  • Information and description on the availability of support services.
  • Q& A: It is always helpful to allocate time attending to participant queries. Some may have already experienced a robbery at work in the past which is an excellent opportunity to utilize their encounters as case studies.
  • Dissemination of training material covered during the session.


Ensure that your trainers are qualified, experienced, competent and able to provide participants with guidelines that can be applicable in real life situations. Keep it brief, simple and do not opt for long training sessions. Avoid academic language, definitions and endless theory analysing which doesn’t lead to practically helpful information.

The crisis does not end when the robbery ends. Management will also need additional training to ensure the sensitive handling of traumatized individuals and to be able to deal with any other crisis after-effects that may occur. 

*Based on the book I was commissioned to write in Greece during the credit crunch which led to an increase in workplace robberies. To enquire about translation rights to the book, feel free to contact me.

**The original article appeared on Linked in Pulse which you can access here

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