Top Mistakes Companies Make When Managing a Security Workforce
- By Mark Folmer
- Apr 01, 2019
There’s an age-old saying that goes something like this:
If you’re going to do it, do it right. With global demand
for security services forecast to increase 6.9 percent
annually—and no signs of it slowing any time
soon—security companies of all sizes are facing the
need to adapt to rapidly changing customer requirements, demographics
and technology landscapes. Never has the need to “do it
right” been greater.
Gone are the days of paper-based note-taking and incident reporting,
or hiring four guards to cover the role of one. Today’s security
companies need to be more efficient and responsive, including
being better at scheduling resources. Not only are they required to
dispatch the right guard to the right site at the right time to do the
right things, but clients are asking to see data to justify annual security
spends and help with future planning.
Expectations are changing and security companies need to step
up. Based on my many years of experience as a security service provider
and corporate security manager as well as the experience of
my company, TrackTik Software, in helping organizations maximize
the efficiency and effectiveness of their security personnel around the
world, here are what we have found to be the top mistakes security
organizations make when it comes to growing and managing their
workforce—and how to avoid them:
Neglecting to account for human behavior. There’s a perception in
the industry that a security guard is a transitory job, prone to high
turnover. To reduce the risk of being short-staffed, companies tend to
hire more resources than necessary. A better tactic to avoid over-staffing,
improve job satisfaction and productivity, and decrease turnover,
however, is to get to know the personal preferences and behaviors of
each of your guards, and use that information to optimize scheduling.
For example, if employee A is more comfortable working at a concierge
desk and prefers the day shift, you shouldn’t be calling that
person to patrol an empty industrial lot overnight. There are tools
that can help with this kind of strategic scheduling, and using this approach,
you will find that your employees are happier, better focused
and more motivated to do good work—contributing to an overall
more efficient operation.
Failing to remove mundane tasks. If you’re managing a security
workforce and you’re not already taking advantage of technology to
automate repetitive tasks, it’s only a matter of time before your business
stagnates. Your guards will lose interest and your operational
costs will be too high to stay competitive. The goal is to identify
where and when technology can augment your security processes and
then rely on human intervention only for those tasks that require it.
It is impossible for people to pay full attention, 100 percent of
the time, but if you let machines do the mundane work while your guards focus on decision-making and response, you’ll get their focus
when you need it most. This approach will also help drive workforce
engagement, which is key in an industry prone to staffing shortages.
Implementing technology for technology’s sake. From cameras to
access control readers to interactive voice response systems, there are
so many neat and fun technologies available, it’s easy to fall into the
trap of purchasing the latest gadget to solve a one-off problem without
considering the big picture first. A standalone call-in system may
help to boost incident reporting, for example, but to really impact
your bottom line, it needs to be integrated into your overall workforce
management platform so that you can collect, store and report
actionable data about those incidents.
Before making a technology purchase, it’s important to understand
the problem you’re trying to solve. It doesn’t make sense to
purchase the latest in automated detection technology if you don’t
have the integrated systems in place to ensure a timely, coordinated
human response will follow.
Overlooking the value of data. Traditionally, guard services were
sold at an hourly rate. Clients wanted to know that a guard would be
on site at a specific time, without necessarily questioning the benefit.
In today’s data-driven world, this scenario is changing. Corporate executives
want to know specifics about the service they’re receiving for
their annual security budget—from the type and number of incidents
reported to the time of day when most incidents are likely to occur.
The more that a security service provider can present information
to show where resources are best used, and where money can
be saved, the more likely they are to retain the clients’ business. Ask
yourself: am I providing information or intelligence? Don’t let your
data hide in plain sight. Make sure you are using the right business intelligence
tools to first collect that data and then turn it into a meaningful
report that can be used for decision making.
Not aligning security with corporate goals. Corporate security is
no longer viewed as made up of “corporate cops,” but rather, as an
internal service, integral to a company’s overall performance. As a security
service provider, you need to routinely review your clients’ corporate
goals and objectives, and show how a security service can help
to reach them. As an example, if Human Resources is focused on
creating a safe work environment, offer to provide employee escorts
to the parking lot at night and contribute to the overall corporate
goal of a higher employee net promoter score (eNPS).
Ignoring security as an important business function. There’s growing
evidence that Enterprise Security Risk Management—the practice
of managing a security program through the use of risk principles—
needs to be fully integrated into corporate processes at every level of
business. If you don’t establish organizational policies, procedures and
best practices to identify and manage corporate security risks, you
won’t be properly equipped to mitigate them. It’s important to remember
the 90/10 rule: 90 percent of effective security measures are policy
and procedure related, only 10 percent has to do with technology.
From small local shops to large multinational security service
providers, the biggest change in security workforce management is
the transition to generate and collect data, right down to the guard
activity level. Guards are often the biggest spend of a security program
and forward-thinking executives are demanding insight into
how that money is used. The better equipped you
are to deliver business intelligence about the security
service you provide, the more you’ll be able to
demonstrate the true value of security as a business
This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Security Today.