We are officially a week out from the Global Security Exchange (GSX) 2019, and overall the show was a tremendous success. From a purely internal standpoint, it was the announcement and presence of the newly formed Trackforce Valiant, which provides an end-to-end answer for companies looking for a Workforce Management Solution. That aside, there were some intriguing takeaways from the event.
1. Security, But Also Safety is a Prime Directive
When you think about security workforce management, or security operations in general, the first thought is around the security aspect for clients. It’s a logical assumption, considering that you want to provide a level of service and security that provides peace of mind to your client. However, another consideration that has grown out of operations is peace of mind for the officers themselves. Ensuring that your security officers have tools and safeguards in place to ensure that they are able to do their job, while keeping them safe is a prime question that was asked a lot during the events of GSX. Companies are looking for ways to improve lone worker protection, alert systems, and early warning metrics to identify potential threats and build risk mitigation to ensure that they are operating in a safe and secure manner. Having tools such as these help to improve workforce management in providing visibility and control, but also officer safety at the same time.
2. Communication Becomes Critical When Crisis Strikes
We sat in on a NASCO meeting that talked about the response of the security team during an active shooter event. What was remarkable during the session was the level of communication that private security provided to local authorities and first responders during this event. Security officers are there to control situations in the daily operations of any institution, but when you have to escalate an event to involve first responders, having an effective means of communication are vital in ensuring immediate response and control of the situation. This is why having command centers that not only can control the guard activities within the daily operations, such as tour management, visitor management, and geo-location of resources, but also having the ability to contact the authorities when a situation escalates. Security officers are often the first line when contacting these authorities to come and address an escalation, and in this case, the security force provided first responders with accurate and detailed instructions on the situation, all of which proved to be critical in response and saved lives.
3. Labor and Wage Compliance Continues to Add Complexity
Another component to security has little to do with the ability to provide safety, security, or communication, but to ensure worker compliance. Between managing the local, state and federal wage and labor laws, equal opportunity reporting, Affordable Care Act (ACA) Compliance, and minimum wage rates, the level of compliance complexity can be daunting for operators to navigate. Having a workforce management solution that is able to provide a top-down view of all the applicable compliance regulations, and calculate wages in an intelligent payroll management system becomes vital in navigating the waters. By having the ability to let a payroll management solution so all the calculations in the background, notify you when you have exceptions, such as zero-hours, overtime, minimum wage issues, and ACA compliance risks, you are taking the manual effort away from the process, and focusing more on running the business.
4. Technology Augments, But Doesn’t Replace the Officer
A lot of technology was shown and presented at the show. There were drones, robots, monitoring systems, cameras, facial recognition and software solutions – all of which are designed to augment the operation to create visibility and control. But the recurring theme was augmentation, not replacement. As we’ve said in past articles, technology is able to provide a deeper level of monitoring and early warning to the officers, but will never replace a physical presence at a client or institution. What’s key here is to provide a operation that combines people, process and technology for an end-to-end solution for security and safety within security workforce management. This isn’t just on the leading-edge concepts. One example is mobile guarding solutions – having the ability to provide a mobile, GPS-enabled device during an officer’s shift become an extension of technology that has a practical, immediate purpose. Whether this is accurately inputting data related to time and labor management, Incident and activity reports, post-order notifications, or visitor management, the use of mobile technology is a simple yet effective piece of the operation that can augment how you maintain visibility and control during operations. Officers will never be replaced, however, the use of technology is shifting to provide a level of confidence and risk mitigation that enhances their abilities.
5. Turnover and Retention Remain a Challenge, No Matter the Size of a Company
Specifically turning to the security officer workforce, there are a host of factors that are proving a challenge to retention. When you have a historically low unemployment rate, and there are outside markets competing for wage rates, the ability to hire and retain talent is a challenge. One of those challenges is the perception of the security officer to potential candidates. With many options in the workforce (Starbucks, Home Depot, etc), the ability to hire an officer needs to come with the ability to properly elevate the officer role above all others. For larger firms, the pedigree of the firm and the level of responsibility may be enough; but for small to mid-sized firms, having a way to effectively elevate the officer role becomes a challenge, especially when there are other options for them. Not only is it important to find a workforce management solution that focuses on filtering and finding the best talent, effectively onboarding them and incentivizing them to stay, but also finding ways to demonstrate the value and rewards of providing safety and security to the public. This continues to present a challenge that the whole industry needs to address.
Overall, the show was a massive success – combing the best companies in the industry to meet and share knowledge, exchange ideas, and drive innovation in the security industry for the future. As we move forward, we hope to see more changes in the industry to drive value for the security workforce, security technologies and the clients that depend on them for safety and security.