How to Effectively Reduce Security Officer Turnover

Officers are the cornerstone of every good security program, so it’s vital to hire and retain the best officers. This can be a challenge because the private security industry is notorious for high turnover.

High turnover results in increased cost. Administrative expenses, for both the client and the security company, are higher because ongoing officer training and recruitment are needed. Even worse, it has a negative impact on the effectiveness of the security program.

It can take months for a security officer to become adept and fully proficient at site-specific duties. Constant officer turnover results in new or inexperienced officers. These officers, who are unfamiliar with the site, may be less capable of detecting unusual activity. Lack of familiarity and training can hinder their decision-making ability.

For these reasons, I think it is important to share with you some of the strategies GSI has implemented to hire and retain high-quality officers.

The challenge of retaining quality guards

The national annual turnover rate for security guards is estimated to be between 100% – 300% percent, according to the Service Employees International Union, the nation’s largest private security officers’ union. That means that most guards leave a job within a year, and sometimes within four months.

Some of the top reasons for turnover are:

  • No opportunities for advancement
  • Lack of feedback/recognition/reward
  • Lack of leadership/Ineffective supervision
  • Not enough hours
  • Lack of training
  • Lack of job security
  • Lack of benefits
  • Lack of respect
  • Low pay
  • Poor recruiting

GSI has been able to address many of these concerns and lower officer turnover by focusing on 3 key areas:

  1. Hiring and recruiting
  2. Officer training and support
  3. Company culture

Officer retention starts during the hiring process

Finding quality candidates is a challenge in today’s job market. However, that doesn’t mean that we should take shortcuts.  Finding the right person for the job is essential to long term success.

Our hiring process begins with group conferences that help applicants understand our commitment to our clients along with the expectations and advantages of working for Guard-Systems Inc.

Applicants are then guided through the application process where we explain our screening process and how all background investigations are conducted.

These investigations include but are not limited to:

  • 1st Tier Local, State and Federal Criminal Background Checks
  • Credit and Identity Check
  • Driving Record Background Check
  • Preliminary Drug Test
  • Pre-employment Questionnaire that we closely examine includes inquiries into: employee background, employment history, integrity, personal reliability, and work ethic.
  • 2nd Tier Local, State and Federal Criminal Background Checks – by our Human Resources Division
  • Skills Testing (Observational, Written, Verbal, Computer)
  • Work and Personal References
  • Final Drug Test

After these checks are successfully completed applicants are then scheduled for a series of interviews. In order to identify the best possible fit for every prospective candidate, each is scheduled to meet with our Operations Manager, Regional Manager, Client Services Manager and Scheduler.

This does require a lot of effort and involvement from upper management, but it also addresses many common concerns:

  • Officers understand the importance of their job
  • We ensure schedules meet their expectations
  • They become familiar with leadership and understand we are here to support them
  • They are educated on the growth of the company and the opportunity for advancement

Officer training and support is a must

For potential security officers, successfully completing the interviewing process is just the first step. 

From there, applicants begin an even more rigorous training program. Prior to the onset of training, we meet with our candidates to thoroughly discuss expectations. Especially our customers’ expectations.

Once the training begins, candidates can expect to complete mandatory classroom training. In addition, GSI requires a series of on-site training courses.

The curriculum is customized according to the needs of each individual client. Training features scenario-based interactions and videos that are in accordance with the officer’s day-to-day responsibilities. Security issues literally ripped from the headlines are also thoroughly reviewed.  After successfully completing the training program, testing is conducted on comprehension and retention.

Once security officers are matched with a client, based on mutual goals, the on-going field support from Branch Management, Operations, Administration and Customer Service begins. Through GSI site visits, reporting, constant contact and feedback, we’re able to give our security staff the appropriate coverage and follow-up they need to be successful.

The safety of our customers is priority one to GSI security officers. We give our officers the support they need to focus completely on keeping our customers’ property, belongings and guests safe.

Of course, diligence is required, but the benefits outweigh the cost. Through our training and support, we are able to address several of the reasons for officer turnover.

Don’t forget about corporate culture

The culture we promote at GSI also helps us to retain quality officers. Everything we do is focused around exceeding our clients’ expectations. That is not an easy task. However, we have found that when our officers are cared for and feel appreciated, issues are often avoided.

We ensure that we recognize the concerns of our officers by keeping management accessible to officers when needed. We also want to ensure that the efforts of our officers are recognized. We do this in a number of ways.

It could be as simple as returning a call or letting an officer know he or she is appreciated. A simple, “good job!” can go a long way. More formal methods include awards, accolades and opportunities for advancement.

This culture of appreciation, gratitude and recognition is designed to keep officers engaged.  An “engaged employee” is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and as a result, takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

A Gallup study found that companies with higher employee engagement enjoyed 50% higher levels of productivity, 13% less employee turnover, 44% higher profits and 50% higher customer satisfaction than companies that measured in the bottom 25% of employee engagement.

That makes a pretty strong business case. Besides, we feel that showing appreciation and recognizing the efforts of our officers is just the right thing to do. It makes perfect sense from both a personal and business perspective.

Teamwork is still required

Clients often feel that reducing officer turnover is the security company’s sole responsibility. However, teamwork is needed. Clients must also be willing to implement the steps needed to improve officer retention. By working closely with our clients, policies and procedures can be implemented that protect the integrity of the security program, the officers and our company.

There is always work that can be done to improve officer retention. It requires constant effort and continual improvement. By focusing on the three areas of 1. hiring, 2. training & support and 3. our corporate culture, I am proud to say that GSI does better than most when it comes to retaining quality officers.

GSI’s New Partnership At Lakeside Villas

We are excited to announce that Guard-Systems, Inc. has been awarded the security contract for Lakeside Villas, a 240-unit townhome development located in Culver City.

Since Monday, June 4th, GSI has been securing the gated entrance and providing 24-hour security for the Lakeside Villas community. A resort-style development, the grounds contain several running streams, a man-made lake, large shade trees, three swimming pools, a jacuzzi, a clubhouse, saunas, and an exercise room.

The serene surroundings and community amenities present unique security challenges. Our job is to ensure the safety and protection of residents, staff and property. We work with hundreds of communities and each is unique that is why we develop a custom plan for each community and provide customized training so that our officers can exceed the expectations of the homeowners and management.

To effectively enhance the communities image, officers need more than the basic state-mandated training. Customized, site-specific training helps officers to understand how personnel should represent the brand while interacting with residents, visitors, employees and others.

We have found that the communities we serve benefit greatly from advanced training because properly trained officers leave favorable impressions on the people they interact with. This can help managers and HOA’s to improve relations with homeowners.

It can also serve to protect property values because the reality of today’s digital age is that one poorly handled incident can be easily captured on video and can result in liabilities and tremendous damage to a community’s image.

At GSI, we consult with management teams and the board to customize a training curriculum that is designed to give on-site security personnel the understanding they need to work in-line with what everyone is striving to achieve within a specific community.

These are accredited training courses that cover various roles and duties of professional security personnel. Trainings feature scenario-based interactions and videos that are in accordance with the officer’s day-to-day responsibilities. Completing these courses are a requirement and officers are tested on their understanding and retention.

Our goal is to ensure that Lakeside Village Condominiums continues to be a great place to live and contribute toward efforts to make it even better.


The Importance Of Gratitude

This time of year, many people are thinking about all the things they are thankful for. That’s great because being thankful and appreciative promotes a positive attitude.

There are volumes of books that show the direct correlation between a positive attitude and a person’s success and overall happiness.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” — Oprah Winfrey

Being thankful and showing gratitude is something we should do every day, even in business. There are many benefits to this and significant results can be achieved by promoting a culture of gratitude within a business.

Showing Gratitude to Our Clients

Some would argue that a business exists to generate profits, others would say that the primary function of business is to fulfill a need. Either way, a business would not exist without its customers or clients.

That’s why it is important to show genuine gratitude for our clients. I’m not talking about thank you cards or gifts here. Although those things may be nice, real gratitude is shown in the value a business delivers to the people that rely on it.

At GSI we show our gratitude by striving to exceed our clients’ expectations and by considering them in every decision we make. We also listen to our clients and provide more support, so that each and every client understands how greatly we value them and appreciate their business.

Showing Gratitude To Our Employees

If you browse through my past posts, you will quickly that I am an advocate of showing appreciation for the work our guards do for our clients.

Of course, showing appreciation for the people who work with us is the right thing to do. There are also many strong business reasons for making sure employees feel appreciated.

In my post, “The Easiest Most Often Overlooked Way To Effectively Reduce Employee Turnover” I cite a CAP study that found the average costs to replace an employee is anywhere from 16% – 21% of the positions annual salary.

Security companies are notoriously plagued with high guard turnover rates. In the end, this has an adverse effect on the quality of service provided to the client.

To address these issues and improve employee retention we simply show gratitude and make sure our employees have excellent support. Guess what? It works!

Showing Gratitude Produces Excellent Results

We can’t show gratitude with mere words. Action is required. At GSI we demonstrate our gratitude through our policies, processes and procedures.

For example, we created a specific position to protect our clients interest. The Customer Service Manager acts as our clients’ “inside man”. The Customer Service Manager’s job is to make sure we exceed our clients’ expectations.

By listening to the needs of our clients and adapting accordingly we have pioneered many innovations which are now considered industry standards.

Guard-Systems Inc. was among the first full service security firm to:

  • Deploy Ambassador Guards – These are security personnel who serve as building ambassadors, greeting and welcoming visitors while simultaneously serving as deterrents for crime.
  • Adopt more subtle uniforms – Clients have the option to choose from suits, sports coats, and casual wear – so officers fit client environments.
  • Provide personal touches – holding doors and walking tenants to their cars.

Innovations that remain unique to Guard-Systems Inc. include:

  • Client Services Manager – This is a dedicated position to oversee quality control and ensure each client’s expectations are exceeded.
  • GSI Alert – Ability to mobilize hundreds of guards to cover client affected areas for a prolonged period in case of an emergency.
  • Dedicated Rovers – Only 2-3 Rovers are assigned to each client’s site, so clients get an officer to fill-in who is familiar to them and has been trained on site specifics.
  • Custom Training – Client specific on-going web based training that’s fully accredited.

Showing gratitude for our clients has helped us to grow at a rapid rate while maintaining a 98% client retention rate.

Showing gratitude to our employees by keeping workloads manageable and providing the support and recognition they need has resulted in higher guard retention and less employee turnover.

In the end everyone wins when companies show genuine gratitude. Not just in their words, but by their deeds.


United Airlines Incident – Learning Positive Security Lessons from Bad Experiences

Unless you don’t watch the news, you’ve probably seen and heard about the United Airlines incident. The incident involved a passenger being forcibly removed from a flight by security.

Those of us who saw the video, as recorded by a fellow passenger’s phone, were shocked. While we weren’t there and don’t know all the details of exactly what transpired, it’s still shocking to see a person being treated like that.

To make matters worse, not only did the video footage go viral across the internet, it reached the White House. Press Secretary Sean Spicer had this to say, “I don’t think anyone looks at that video and isn’t disturbed that a man was treated that way.”

It gets worse. Spicer confirmed that he was quite confident President Trump watched the video, as well.

Talk about having a bad day at work. Not only was this a disturbing incident, it was a PR nightmare.

Public opinion and downright outrage has resulted not only in negative press for United Airlines, but plummeting stock prices.

Reaction to the incident spiraled so far out of control; it prompted United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, to make a public statement.

“The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened,” Munoz said in his statement.

Warning to Companies Employing Security Officers

At this point, the damage has been done. The reputation of United Airlines has been seriously compromised. All due to this one incident on a day which started out much like every other at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

Of all the probable thousands of interactions at the airport that day, which one is standing out in everyone’s mind? Sadly, the negative incident prevails.

In this day and age of cell phones, it’s a safe bet to assume that at some point, it will be captured on video and shared on social media for the entire world to see.

When negative experiences regarding your company name and image (brand) are shared with the world, it can cause serious damage.

For any company employing outside security officers, remember the lesson to be learned from this incident. The ways security officials handle delicate incidents are representing your firm. There are right ways and wrong ways to handle potentially brand-damaging incidents.

It is one thing for security personnel to receive the minimum training requirements as mandated by your state. However, is that really enough? Can you afford to ruin your company’s image due to bare bones training of security staff?

How to Protect Your Company’s Reputation and Brand

It’s time to take a look at the training your security staff has received. Are you sure they really know how to deal with difficult people, diffuse situations and bottom line, handle any situation with dignity and respect for all involved?

Whether you hire an outside security company to provide concierge or guard services, we can help provide the customized training that is critical to protect your brand.

Our extensive security training program includes standard, site-specific and customized curriculums. We start by meeting with management to cover specific concerns and specialty areas of training to positively represent your company brand.

After all, the way guests are handled in any situation reflects directly on your brand.

Our accredited courses train security staff as to their role, responsibility and expectations in terms of representing your company.

Training includes both video presentations and role-play interactions in situation-specific scenarios.

Once security personnel completes the intensive training program, they are tested for both understanding and retention of the materials covered.

In light of the ever-increasing potential of negative situations that may come up for those employed on your security team, customized training is essential.

By providing customized training for your security staff, you can take those extra steps in preparing them to understand and handle situations in a way to position your brand in a positive light. Even in bad situations.

15 Steps to Help You Stay Safe in a Crazy World

Vigilance is defined as “the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.”

Today, owners of commercial and residential properties must prepare for a wide range of threats and emergencies. These include damage from severe weather and natural disasters, as well as attacks from terrorists, cybercriminals, disgruntled employees, active shooters, vandals taking advantage of otherwise peaceful mass gatherings – and the list goes on.

Just a few days ago, Kansas police arrested three men in connection with an alleged attempt to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City.

The Department of Homeland Security recently met with The Real Estate Round Table to discuss escalating threats from international and “homegrown” terrorism, cyber-attacks, and other hazards. As a security company, we felt it was our duty to bring the situation to our community’s attention.

“Real estate is one of the few critical infrastructure sectors that terrorists have attacked successfully,” the Department stated. “In today’s environment, with increased security at official  government and military sites (as well as iconic structures), it is not surprising that terrorists and violent criminals may increasingly view civilian-centric ‘soft targets’ — hotels, offices, shopping centers, train or metro stations, and other public spaces — as primary targets.”

At GSI, we feel it is crucial to raise awareness of these threats. The Department of Homeland Security agrees, saying there is a need to “maintain a vigilant posture” in anticipation of emergencies. Being prepared also includes mitigating risks from incidents that do not specifically target buildings such as the attempted car bombing in Times Square or emergencies that are not defined as “terrorism” like the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre in 2012.

Incidents that don’t explicitly target buildings can still adversely impact property owners through potential liability risk, collateral damage, and economic harm from shopper and tenant avoidance due to fear. Here are 15 steps property owners and managers can take to help mitigate these risks.

15 Steps to Remain Vigilant

  1. Make safety and security a fundamental part of your culture and include everybody in the process – e.g., staff, tenants, leaders, etc.
  2. Regularly and comprehensively assess your security and update your plans as needed.
  3. Run frequent safety and security exercises.
  4. Train all staff on how to respond to different emergency scenarios.
  5. Develop relationships with public safety officials, including police, firefighters, and EMS.
  6. Ensure proper procedures are in place for controlling access points.
  7. Formulate a plan for responding to bomb threats.
  8. Be mindful of suspicious activity, and make sure everyone understands how to report it.
  9. Be aware of suspicious mail indicators and make sure everyone knows what to do if they receive a dubious letter or package.
  10. Establish an emergency response plan.
  11. Have a plan for how you will continue operations and services if an incident occurs, such as being able to access essential computer data and records off-site.
  12. Consider security when establishing a policy for online communications. Assess whether or not to publicly post things like event calendars, photographs, and personal contact information.
  13. Make sure all on-site technology is working correctly – e.g., security cameras.
  14. Establish an information security plan to protect sensitive data.
  15. Ensure the security of your facility is properly maintained.

Security Site Assessment

In response to these escalating threats, we are offering Free Security Site Assessment.

A security site assessment will be beneficial even if you currently have a security program in place. A fresh, independent, and objective view may uncover previously overlooked issues.

During our assessment, we examine all aspects of your security program in depth. We identify any critical security weaknesses and look for opportunities to both reduce costs and boost operational efficiency. Where necessary, we will suggest updated security measures and other improvements.

We are offering this to our community to help ensure your safety and security in these trying times.