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How Should You Handle Forgotten Employee ID Badges?

It happens to the best of us: we forget things. It's human nature.

Keys get misplaced. TV remotes disappear. The name of that song you wanted to look up slips your mind. It's frustrating: "It's right on the tip of my tongue...I was just thinking about it a few minutes ago!"

Strangely, forgotten items often include things that we use on a regular basis. You'd think those everyday items would be easier to remember, but the brain works in mysterious ways.

Cell phone chargers. Car keys. Glasses. These are items that are essential to daily life, yet they often disappear.

Another item that often gets left behind? Employee ID badges

Employee badges are going to vary from place to place. How they look and how they're used is going to depend on an organization's preferences. Some organizations might require employees to have their badges at all times, while others might not care as much.

And while we already covered ways you can help your employees remember their badges in another blog post, let's be realistic: people are still going to forget.

This raises an important question: what should you do when an employee forgets his or her credential?

Zero tolerance or be a little lenient?

As a rule, it's always a good idea to have a plan in place when it comes to anything relating to security. You have plans for fires, emergency evacuations and intruders...so why not have a plan in place for forgotten badges?

Sure, a forgotten ID badge isn't nearly as urgent of a safety threat as a fire or intruder, so this "plan" may not need to be rehearsed monthly and likely won't require going into a ton of detail. 

However, at the most basic level, forgotten badges are a security concern. Someone showing up at your site without a valid credential increases the likelihood of allowing an unauthorized person on site.

How you respond to a forgotten ID badge is going to depend on how secure you want your facility to be.

  • If a facility is a small office where all of the employees know each other and sensitive information isn't being shared, a forgotten ID badge isn't a huge deal.
  • If a facility is a high-security government operation or a massive complex with thousands of workers, being able to positively identify an employee is essential.

Deciding how seriously you want to take ID security will go a long way toward determining how to handle forgotten credentials. 

Here are three options:

1. The Strict: Send the employee home.

It might seem a little harsh, but for high-security operations, there really aren't many other good options. Adopting a zero-tolerance policy for forgotten employee badges ensures that you don't allow anyone on site without authorization. 

This policy eliminates concerns about deceptive people posing as employees who forgot their badges. It also sends a message to employees and other personnel that the organization takes security seriously, which could have positive effects on other areas of the business.

Also, if an employee forgets his or her badge and is forced to go home and retrieve it, the chances of that employee forgetting it again would almost certainly decrease.

  • Pros: Virtually eliminates worries about unauthorized access, projects secure image
  • Cons: Can be viewed as a little cold or harsh, might seem extreme to employees

2. The Lenient: Issue humorous replacement badges.

If your organization is able to verify that an employee is, in fact, who he or she claims to be, you can have a laugh by poking a little fun at that employee.

One IDenticard customer uses a special badge that looks and acts like a normal ID badge but says "I FORGOT MY BADGE AT HOME" in large letters. If your employees have a good sense of humor, this is a good way to lighten the mood while still allowing the employee to go about his or her day.

  • Pros: Offers a more lighthearted approach, allows employee to continue working without losing any time
  • Cons: Doesn't discourage employees from forgetting again, trivializes security issues that can arise from forgotten badges

3. The Middle Ground: Give out temporary badges.

Somewhere between sending an employee home and issuing a funny badge lies a Goldilocks-esque "just right" solution: give temporary or visitor badges to your forgetful employees.

You can achieve this in a variety of ways. You could treat the employee as you'd treat any other visitor, using your Visitor Management solution to register the employee's presence and issue a paper badge.

You could also create generic employee badges that your receptionist or human resources manager keeps at his or her desk. Forgetful employees could sign in to receive a badge at the beginning of the day, then return it at the day's end. 

The sign-in/sign-out process would ensure that badges don't go missing, and would also serve as a way to encourage employees to be less forgetful in the future. After all, no one likes extra paperwork.

  • Pros: Employee is still registered in the system, no work time is lost
  • Cons: Mixes employees in with your visitor records, potentially creates more work for front desk staff

Adding employee ID badges to your facility is a great way to increase security and professionalism without busting the budget.

We have decades of experience creating badges of all kinds, and would love to help you get your employee ID program started, whether you want to print your own ID badges on site or want us to custom print them for you.

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