Overtime expenses are a serious concern for many businesses, but fewer industries are harder hit by overtime costs than security guard providers. While you can’t always avoid scheduling a guard for an extra shift, far too many companies hurt their bottom line because they aren’t using the right overtime reduction strategies and tools.

Finding ways to reduce overtime expenses should be one of your top priorities. In the long run, it could be key to maintaining a profitable business.

Here’s a closer look at three of the best ways you can eliminate unnecessary overtime.

1. Streamline Scheduling

3 of the Most Effective Overtime Reduction Strategies
Alerts and push notifications help to prevent overtime hours

One of the biggest barriers to reducing overtime is a lack of the big picture. When management staff isn’t fully aware of how many hours their guards have already worked, it becomes all too easy to assign a shift to someone who will end up receiving overtime pay.

Fortunately, new software tools are making it significantly easier for management to get a complete view of their guard scheduling. Real-time status updates help you see how many hours a guard has already worked, as well as how many remaining shifts they have scheduled for a particular pay period. Alerts and push notifications ensure that you’ll be aware if any changes need to be made to prevent overtime hours.

While such software naturally makes it easier to adjust shift assignments to avoid scheduling overtime, this is far from the only way this will benefit your company. By fine-tuning shift assignments, guard performance and retention will improve as everyone receives a more equalized workload.

2. Cross-Train Your Guards

3 of the Most Effective Overtime Reduction Strategies
Provide cross-training for your employees

Another issue that prevents security guard companies from reducing overtime are discrepancies in training, security clearances, and other needed skills among their employees. Many security clients require that guards assigned to their facilities have a particular certification or undergo additional training. If only a limited number of your staff have the required skills, you’ll be hard-pressed to avoid over-scheduling your most highly trained workers.

The solution is simple: provide cross-training for your employees. While additional training may require some initial upfront investment, it will help you save in the long run. As more guards gain the skills and certifications needed to fulfill different assignments, it will be much easier to distribute shifts more evenly.

This can be especially beneficial when you need to find an emergency fill-in for a shift. With more properly trained guards available, you will be better able to avoid scheduling someone who will incur overtime expenses. As with streamlining your scheduling, providing additional training to your guards is also likely to improve retention and job satisfaction, further improving your bottom line.

3. Staffing Changes

Quite often, security guard companies that constantly deal with overtime expenses have a single root problem: they don’t have a big enough staff.

Believe it or not, hiring additional guards can actually help a smaller security company save money. In the long run, it costs a lot less to hire a new guard who works 30 hours a week, rather than have three other employees each take on 10 hours of overtime.

Alternatively, some companies may benefit from proportional staffing. It isn’t unusual for security guard companies to have higher demand on certain days of the week or during certain times of the year. Some clients may only want your services for special events. With the help of scheduling software, it becomes much easier to see which times require greater manpower and plan ahead for these events.

Combining this information with employee-submitted time off requests and sick days subsequently makes it easier to determine how many guards are actually needed during a particular time frame and find a solution that best fits your needs. For example, you may find that hiring seasonal guards or flex employees will offset overtime expenses during the busier times of year.

A proactive, forward-thinking approach to scheduling will yield big savings later on.