A recent Gallup poll found nearly 70% of Americans aren’t engaged at work. This is often caused by boredom, low pay, lack of communication, or slow career development. While many industries feel that impact, the consequences are more significant when a security guard checks out. People can get hurt, businesses may be exposed to increased theft or vandalism, and stressful situations (a lost child, crowd control, or medical emergency) may get out of hand.

But the consequences are greater when a security guard checks out. People can get hurt, businesses may be exposed to increased theft and vandalism, and stressful situations (a lost child, crowd control, or medical emergency) may get out of hand.

Employee turnover is another growing concern. High turnover rates, low retention, and employee engagement have always challenged security firms and corporate security departments. Today, the high turnover rate in the security guard industry is a key challenge.

With annual turnover rates over 100%, the average private security firm will hire a completely new workforce every 12 months. This will negatively impact your company’s bottom line and can result in a worse customer experience.

This blog post will review the common reasons for employee turnover and discuss ten ways to reduce turnover rates, increase engagement, and retain your best security officers.

    1. Increase wages and improve benefits
    2. Set up efficient schedules 
    3. Ensure employees can succeed
    4. Offer advance and recognition opportunities
    5. Provide ongoing training and education
    6. Offer physical and mental health support 
    7. Determine your security officers’ long-term goals 
    8. Create a strong company culture
    9. Provide strong leadership
    10. Use software to find and retain talent

Leading Causes of Employee Turnover in The Security Industry

Let’s acknowledge the reasons behind the industry’s turnover problem before diving deeper into how to fix the problem. Here are a few:

Low Pay and Minimal Benefits

According to the US Bureau of Statistics, the average hourly rate for an unarmed security officer is $18. This equates to a median annual wage of $37,090, making it nearly impossible to live off a one-income salary in most US cities.

Quality security industry benefits are rare and typically limited to full-time employees. A lack of hours can knock a security guard down to part-time status and potentially impact benefits eligibility.

Result: Security officers will leave for the slightest pay increase or access to better benefits.

Low Employee Engagement

An engaged employee will be loyal to their company and make decisions in its best interests. They are more reliable and are likely to go the extra mile for the customer. Overall, these employees bring a positive enthusiasm to work each day.

Alternatively, disengaged employees negatively affect company performance. This attitude can result in increased absenteeism, a rise in workplace accidents, and a drop in productivity or profitability.

The connection between low employee engagement and high turnover rates has been well-researched. Highly engaged teams show 23% greater profitability, and organizations with high employee engagement outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%.

Result: Security officers will leave for another employer who makes them feel valued.

Ineffective Leadership Or Bad Corporate Culture

Employees want to like their manager and perform for them. In return, they expect their manager to have their backs. However, a lack of training or mentoring, ineffective supervision, and poor communication can negatively impact employees. They may feel isolated, underappreciated, disrespected, and ultimately become disengaged.

Result: Security officers will leave when they feel management isn’t supporting them or is being insensitive to scheduling and posting preferences.

Poor recruiting and talent management strategies

Retention starts with hiring. It takes a certain personality to be a security guard. They must be confident, aware, and compassionate. Security firms that don’t screen candidates for these qualities can expect continuous turnover problems.

These firms should also perform due diligence (background checks, personal references, drug tests, competency tests) and make applicants understand the full scope of their role.

Result: Security officers will leave after they realize they may not be the right fit for the job.

Top 10 Employee Retention Strategies for Security Officers

High turnover has many effects on security firms and corporate security departments. These include:

  • Increased client or organization risk because of inexperienced security personnel
  • Higher recruitment and training operations costs
  • The inability to provide quality service due to a lack of an available workforce

High turnover rates in security firms and corporate security departments have several negative effects. These include increased risks due to inexperienced staff, higher recruitment and training costs, and a need for more workers to maintain quality service.

Collectively, these issues can harm your business and limit future opportunities. That’s why security firms must find ways to reduce turnover and keep their staff happy. But don’t worry—we’ve got ten practical tips to help you retain your security workforce.

1. Increase Wages and Improve Benefits

Offering your security offers competitive wages is critical. High turnover is often the result of low wages and too few hours to make ends meet. Not sure of the going rate for quality officers in your market?

The Bureau of Labour Statistics has average security hourly wages to help you benchmark your firm, attract the best talent, and reduce turnover within your workforce.

If raising wages or providing a signing bonus isn’t possible, consider offering some type of basic group healthcare plan or secondary benefit such as a financial wellness package. With an app like Rain, security employees can access a part of their wages before payday to use in emergencies.

Other things to consider are supplying uniforms at no cost, giving out commuter passes, encouraging flexible schedules, or taking assignments close to home. Having perks like these can make up a bit of ground on compensation.

2. Set Up Efficient Schedules

Poor scheduling and attendance practices can lead to manual work and frantic phone calls. This results in errors such as mismatched resource allocation related to client requirements — ultimately leading to increased overtime spending.

By scheduling security shifts equally across your team, you can reduce overtime expenses while ensuring everyone receives fair compensation. Additionally, to effectively retain your security officers, it’s important to offer them shifts that align with their lifestyle and family obligations.

Regular no-call/no-shows may indicate broader employee apathy or structural issues in your scheduling operations.

3. Ensure Employees Can Succeed

Your guards will become a trusted face and part of the client’s workforce. It’s important that they like their post. Match officers to assignments based on mutual goals, skills, and interests.

Do they prefer to work alone at night or with a group? Do they want to walk patrols, remain seated in a security guard booth, or sit behind a corporate reception desk? Assign the right person to fit the role.

Next, provide your officers with the tools and technology to do their jobs effectively. Implement a security guard tour system that officers can access on mobile devices. Checkpoint tours are a smart way to avoid boredom while ensuring officers perform their duties.

The right security workforce management solution allows officers to complete tasks like logging incidents, opening report forms, capturing images and video, asking questions, or triggering incident alerts from anywhere on the premises.

4. Offer Advancement Opportunities and Give Recognition

One of the easiest ways to garner loyalty from your security officers is to make them feel appreciated. The first way to do this is by paying them more. Recognize their contributions by increasing their wages when possible. Also, spell out prerequisites and schedules for raises or advancement.

Next, congratulate your security guards after completing certification training assignments or when they have gone the extra mile for a client. Positive reinforcement and a few kind words can go a long way—it lets them know you are paying attention to them.

Finally, find the security officers who stand out on your team and give them more responsibility or promote them to team lead. Employees who feel they’re on a career path are more likely to stay with the firm.

5. Provide Ongoing Training and Education

Learning doesn’t end with initial certification and licensing. To keep your team sharp, you should offer continuous education, management classes, and advanced firearms training.

Provide practical and interactive training to prepare your security officers for real-life scenarios. Ensure the training is engaging, interesting, and relevant to official duties. Consider outsourcing training by partnering with a company that offers customized online unarmed security guard training.

These can all act as career development opportunities and keep employees engaged.

6. Offer Physical and Mental Health Support

Investing in your security officers and providing access to the support services they may need is a must. Over the past couple of years, security guards have been at the forefront of significant and minor crises. They’ve experienced increased aggression, verbal abuse, and threats of violence.

Security officers are also at a greater risk of experiencing gun violence simply by being on duty. It makes sense why a growing number of security officers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Security firms must help protect their officers’ mental and physical health. Offer counseling services, medical care, or worker’s compensation after an employee has been involved in a violent event to let them know you have their back.

7. Determine Your Security Officers’ Long-term Goals

Only a few people want to be frontline security guards for their whole careers. Identify the officers who aspire to be supervisors and create a path to leadership.

Providing ambitious security officers with clear pathways to promotion and increased pay will incentivize them to strive harder in their roles. Having potential supervisor candidates complete a designated number of hours on duty as a flex officer offers valuable on-the-job training, equipping them with the skills and experience necessary to excel in a supervisory position. This hands-on approach allows them to undertake leadership responsibilities and prepares them for the challenges of a leadership role.

A security guard may want to own their own security firm one day. Take a page from Pablo Rosa Jr., who leveraged his field experience and knowledge to go from security guard to founder of the Rosa International Group. Rosa International Group provides services within the retail, hospitality, and multi-tenant property sectors.

8. Create a Strong Company Culture

A study by Glassdoor found that 77% of respondents consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there. More importantly, 56% said that company culture was more important than salary in terms of job satisfaction.

In other words, it isn’t always about the money, and more than half of workers would take a job that paid less if they felt the company was a better fit for them.

Consider these ideas when building a culture that makes your security officers feel valued and appreciated:

  • Two-way Communication: Company higher-ups should schedule regular status meetings with managers and supervisors. These meetings will help foster open communication and feedback.
  • Team Building: Actively work to stay engaged with your employees. Sponsor team-building activities such as company game nights, office parties, or attending a sporting event.
  • Field Check-ins: Encourage managers to check in with field officers regularly and even have officers check in on each other. This practice ensures that everyone in the company is engaged and actively contributing to the culture.
  • Kudos and Recognition: Use a company newsletter or email blast to shout out and recognize exceptional employees. Offer incentives like gift cards, tickets to a ballgame or concert, or extra paid days off. Make sure everyone knows about both the kudos and rewards programs in place.

9. Provide Strong Leadership

Great leaders understand that creating an engaging culture starts from the top down, prioritizing employee engagement as a critical initiative. They excel in communication and rely on metrics to identify or mentor other effective managers.

Just as Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) are viewed as the backbone of the Army, supervisors in security companies actively play a crucial role in instilling the organization’s values and standards.

Effective leaders actively communicate expectations for security guards while actively adhering to strategic business plans that guide the company’s direction and enhance employee retention.

10. Use Software to Find and Retain Talent

Recruitment is a continuous challenge due to the security industry’s high turnover rate. It’s been difficult as a security manager to walk the line between tight margins and retaining your best resources. But today’s technology makes creating an environment that favors retention easier.

Human resources (HR) recruitment software can help security firms find the best talent by:

  • Streamlining administrative tasks
  • Speeding up the application process
  • Scoring candidates
  • Retaining seasonal employee data for callbacks

The best HR recruitment software works well with payroll and scheduling applications post-hire. HR recruitment software is sometimes part of a larger solution suite called Human Capital Management (HCM).

No matter the name, recruitment software helps find stronger candidates. Great recruitment software publishes links to job postings on popular websites, provides scheduling, helps conduct video interviews, sends offer letters, and helps with compliance reporting.

Time and labor management solutions like TrackTik’s HCM software use actual scheduling data to run accurate and regular payroll. This helps reinforce the firm as a responsible and reliable employer. Managers can limit overtime expenses while keeping more officers happy with tools to distribute staff shifts.

Tracking and analyzing operational data can help supervisors recognize and reward high-performing individuals. Managers can consider ways to incentivize officers as appropriate.

Reduce Guard Turnover While Increasing Retention and Profitability with TrackTik

Physical security industry recruitment and retention are ongoing and require constant attention and improvement. Knowing how to reduce employee turnover must remain a priority for private security firms. But it’s worth the effort, especially since the average cost of replacing an employee is 25% of their total salary.

Understanding the causes of officer turnover is step one. Implementing our suggested hiring and employee retention strategies is step two. Step three is knowing whether you’ve got the right solution to support your operations.

We’ve made it easy and have laid out all the information you need to consider in our guide, Why (and how) To Switch to a New HR & Payroll Platform.