Identification (ID) Badges / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

You hit that magic number of employees where everyone can't possibly know everyone else. It's a sign of success and it's ...

You hit that magic number of employees where everyone can't possibly know everyone else. It's a sign of success and it's going to be a little traumatic as well. After all, if you can't recognize everyone, how do you know if they should have access to different parts of your organization? Looks like you're ready to implement an ID card system, a.k.a. the employee badge. Let's talk about the basics of an ID card:

  1. At least one identifying factor. That could be an employee photo, your corporate logo or employee ID number (don't use their Social Security numbers unless you like to be hated)
  2. An expiration date. How long a card is good for depends on how much you want to budget for the badging expense and how secure your property really is. At some facilities, like an airport, cards have a very short lifespan, while other companies will keep ID cards for a couple years.
  3. Card security features – These keep your badges from being easily duplicated. Some common elements are: hologram, silver/gold foil, two-dimensional logo, morphing images, complex graphics using fine lines, hidden and micro text, and electronic chips (for access control).

Start with a sticker badge

Just a little more secure than a "Hello my name is…" badge, these systems can go from very basic, handwritten to printed badges and even ones that will expire using a chemical reaction.

Laminate your badge

The most likely solution for a small business, these are usually printed on heavy paper stock and slipped into a badge holder or laminated. Pros: Easy to print and cheap. Cons: Easy to copy, easy to damage.

Make a plastic badge

Think about the "loyalty" cards that you get from retailers, and you've got a good idea of what you'd be looking at here.Pros: Fairly inexpensive, durable. Cons: Need special printers, tend to be sold in bulk.

Add an electronic identifier to a plastic badge

Your credit card is one example; it probably uses a magnetic stripe; newer credit cards use a radio frequency tag that can communicate with special readers. These same technologies can be used to control access to doors. Pros: Integrates directly with facility access controls, durable. Cons: More expensive, cost and time to replace a lost card often increases.

Put together your system

You'll need a basic software package to manage the ID creation process and most likely a basic camera system that can connect to a PC for badge photos. Paper and laminating supplies you can get from your usual office supply store, your security card vendor or even through the security company that sold you the building alarm system. Your office printer can handle the paper badges.
  • Badges are no good unless you enforce the wearing of them. That means you have to wear one, too. Senior management sets the tone that all employees follow, and if you're not wearing the badge, don't be surprised if Jake in accounting bemoans wearing a badge, too
  • Have you hired a contractor? Make sure the end-date for their project is the same as the expiration date on their badge.

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