How to Build and Maintain Effective Security Officer Teams

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Man wearing black shirt with the word "security" on the back

The nature of security programs is changing. Higher demands for customer service; increased use of technology; evolving threat scenarios, even language skills remain at the core of day-to-day security functions.

At the same time, the labor market continues to tighten and the challenge of attracting and retaining qualified staff is becoming difficult. Still, many corporations are choosing to outsource non-core service functions, such as security, to focus on their core competencies and rely on their security partner to recruit, develop and retain quality security staff.

Below are key lessons learned on keeping up with the evolving challenges of building and maintaining best-in-class security officer teams.

1. It starts with recruiting. How you attract future team members to your program is crucial. Your job postings should clearly promote the benefits and opportunities of being part of your team. At the same time, you need to get out into your community and talk about the team and the environment you are creating with your security program. Share the skills, culture and values you are integrating into your program.

2. Meet basic needs: There are three specific elements that must be met to attract the right staff. If these three needs are not completely met, the revolving door will ensue:

  • Competitive wages
  • Distance from residence
  • Shift preference

First, there must be a livable wage to reduce your officers from having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, which is so common today.  Also consider the distance from home and working a schedule that meets family and lifestyle expectations is also just as critical.

3. Develop security staffs’ hard and soft skills: Training is an essential requirement for anyone wishing to work in security, and is also a key component of recruiting, developing and motivating high-quality security teams. Security work has always depended on a range of “hard” skills. Typically, these skills included knowledge of and execution on policies and procedures, such as access control and emergency response. But in today’s information age, where people rely on the Internet for information, this has never been more important. Managers must implement innovative training to help security officers know all procedures.

4. Career pathing to your team member’s best potential. Whenever hiring and retention gets tough, we all rationalize it by claiming “it’s the money.” Without a doubt, wages will always be a key component and basic need of any employee, which is why it ranks as Number 1 on this “Basic needs” list in point 2 above.

But once someone is onboard, is it always money that leads them away?  No, not always. Many workers are looking to learn and develop in order to build a security career. If they don’t see opportunity with your program they will go looking for it elsewhere. Companies that can’t promise any kind of advancement opportunities soon fall behind those that do. Entry-level staff need to be able to see how they can become supervisors. So, when more money isn’t an option, make sure a future can be. Pave the way for your team through succession planning and skills development.

5. Communication and recognition goes a long way: The way officers are treated will go a long way towards building ownership in your program.  Employees want to be respected, informed and appreciated. Great security teams are engaged, provide feedback and feel part of the overall strategy.