Open-access content Thursday 15th August 2013 — updated 3.30pm, Tuesday 26th May 2020
A security team is often a building's first - and last - line of defence. Here, John Briggs offers some advice on the important task of keeping the team motivated and alert.
15 August 2013
A motivated, attentive and observant security team can be a highly-effective deterrent and a robust line of defence where other interventions, such as electronic security access, fail.
A unified approach In the security industry, unmotivated employees can have a negative impact on the successful operation of a security system. In extreme circumstances, this can lead to disastrous consequences.
In 2012, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CNPI) published a report, providing guidance for security managers on how to improve and maintain employee motivation. The step-by-step assistance and supporting analysis tools are invaluable for those responsible for managing security personnel.
So, how can security providers create an environment to ensure their security team remain motivated, committed and attentive?
There is not one simple answer for this, but maintaining open communication, providing regular opportunities for training, and delegating responsibility, goes a long way in encouraging motivation within any team.
In addition to these suggestions, providing tasks that occupy the security team throughout their entire shift and allowing them to move around the site to perform different tasks will keep them engaged. Ensuring they are paid correctly and on time, have full uniforms and personal protection equipment, and receive regular feedback, recognition and reward on a job well done will instil a sense of value within the team.
Finally, the realisation of opportunities for progression and promotion in the company will encourage commitment and pride in their work - which increases the retention of staff and decreases changes in workforce for the client.
It is certainly advisable for security managers to integrate these practices into their standard employee development procedures. They should also be considered in the wider context of integration with the client's security culture.
After all, a security team must rely on the co-operation and goodwill of those they are protecting in order to deliver the right level of security to their client and its employees. In that respect, if the client's employees are well-informed and appreciate the value of having the right security measures in place, they are far more likely to respond positively.
Therefore, it's not only the actions of a well-motivated security team that can create a safe working environment, it is also about the client's employees understanding the common, unified approach to security in their organisation.
For instance, if the client wants its employees to be vigilant and consider security measures as an integral aspect of their work, then it must provide an environment that sets the right example. This doesn't have to involve a complex security alert or escalation system to work effectively. Basic, simple measures implemented company-wide can make a positive impact on security culture.
For example, employees may be required to lock confidential paperwork away securely; but if they're not provided with sufficient lockable storage, then they may question the management's commitment to security.
Other simple measures could include a security hotline for employees to report incidents, ensuring that there are appropriate procedures for handling and disposing of information, or implementing a clear desk and work area policy.
Security operators need to avoid the temptation to have a 'one-size-fits-all' approach. Security companies need to strike the right balance between safety and the client's customer service standards. Only by understanding the client's objectives, image, environment and customer culture can a security team deliver services that fully support the client.
The security team plays a vital role towards a visitor's first impression of a premises. Creating a welcoming environment while ensuring the premises are secured properly can be hard to achieve.
Not every company wants to create the same environment and, as such, not all security personnel would be suited to each situation. To use a few examples, a banking institution may want to portray a professional, trustworthy and highly secure approach, whereas an internet service agency may want to come across as fresh, fun and intelligent.
Providing appropriate and effective training to the security team is essential in ensuring they create a positive lasting impression.
Security teams will be better equipped to positively contribute towards the client's reputation and brand when they are fully embedded in that organisation. Few security managers would need reminding that the best-performing security teams are the ones that feel a valued part of the organisation they are supporting.
Instilling a sense that the security team works for the client, and is therefore treated as a colleague and not simply a service supplier, is a critical part of this process.
One way to achieve this is to detail a defined set of behaviours that are consistent with the client's brand, culture, environment and processes, which the security provider can then build in to its induction and training process. This could include simple things, such as referring to customers in first-name terms only, opening the reception door, directing them to a car parking space, and so on.
In conclusion, motivating security personnel is one that offers invaluable returns, both in terms of service provision, and also in terms of maintaining your corporate image.
John Briggs, operations director at First Security