The objective of security workforce management is to:
Have the right people,
And the right amount of people,
Doing the right tasks,
At the right time,
And performing those tasks in the right way.
With the correct technology, processes, and procedures, a business can effectively manage its workforce to achieve optimum performance, lowered labour costs, and increased profit.
Effective workforce management can be quite complex as it involves more than one element.
To have a workforce that achieves great results requires the full support of your entire company, from the CEO and management to security guards and office staff.
It’s probably a lot more important than you think because ultimately, it impacts your bottom line.
What is security workforce management?
Security workforce management describes the management of employees in a security company.
No matter how many staff members a security company has in its employ, it will engage in workforce management.
But here’s the thing: management can be by design or it can be by default.
The difference is profitability: the one is strategised and the other just “happens”.
When the workforce is managed by design, it means that management has thought out its mission and strategy and has built processes and standards to support the vision.
Leaving things to run by default means management is unspokenly run by a “wing it” process.
The important thing is that profitability is determined by how well management performs in these areas:
- Planning to build an efficient company.
- Company culture.
- Creating an efficient security guard force.
- Using the correct technology.
- Managing and empowering staff to protect company data.
- Building relationships with security guards.
- Providing the right tools for employees.
- Using data, analysis and reporting.
How does security workforce management impact profit?
The need for security services, on a global scale, has steadily increased over the years, with a dramatic increase over the last few years specifically.
As a result of the growing awareness and need for security across the world, many security companies experienced rapid growth, but continue to do things they same way they did when they just set out: using time-consuming labour-based manual approaches to scheduling and to track attendance. And of course, using old ways of doing things does not provide in-depth insight into time and attendance tracking.
Due to cumbersome paper-based processes and human error, shifts are missed or double-booked, or the manager doesn’t receive the request of absence in time.
Scheduling and the resultant employee communication is time intensive.
Staff spend excessive amounts of time on the phone making adjustments as employees call in at various times.
Scheduling mistakes cause increased overtime costs as well as non productive time. In addition, employees are frustrated by the scheduling process, which decreases morale. They find they need to enter the same data multiple times in the company’s scheduling, billing and payroll systems.
Non biometric clocking systems are ineffective.
The business is in a state of constant crisis management mode.
Together with all the chaos of new schedules, changed schedules, requests, short notice changes, communication, and confusion, the client demands a smooth and pleasant experience, which is not forthcoming when shifts are missed, or they can’t see on paper what they are paying for, because there is no analysis or reporting taking place.
In addition, because there is no data being analysed and no reports generated to show what’s happening in the company, no improvements are made, and therefore, if the customer is not satisfied with their experience, there is nothing stopping them from engaging your competitor.
It does not make business sense to manage a company by default. There is too much competition, and if you want your business to grow, you have to return to the foundations, like mission, vision, and then plan around the business objectives.
The alternative is to jeopardize contracts and profitability.
The next question is, how to ensure efficiency in security workforce management?
Efficiency in security operations
Site and contract management especially, demands professionalism because being on-site, the client has high visibility of the operations of your company.
Chaos makes clients nervous. In security, efficiency is not negotiable as it’s very much a part of your brand and reputation.
To arrive at efficient security workforce management means planning, using the right technologies like security management software to increase productivity and reduce costs, a focus on employees, and revolving the company around data.
Let’s dig in.
Planning an efficient security workforce management
To promote efficiency, it’s often important to start with the basics, and what lies at the core of the business, which is scheduling of guards.
Scheduling: avoiding over posting and under posting
Efficiency is about posting the right grading of your guards. Over posting or under posting means loss of money.
Planning the posting of guards in order to save costs means deploying the right number of staff at each required shift, be it day shift or night shift.
What seems like simple scheduling can often become exceptionally complex, and as a result, create unnecessary costs and chaos. Let’s analyze the scheduling maze and how the process should run for efficiency:
Repeated tasks should be automated to save time. Managers should not be continually watching the scheduling roster, but rather keeping an eye on the bigger operational picture. It’s a given that the schedule is a living thing and will change constantly, but you need to make it work for you so that it does not consume your valuable time.
The human element of the security industry means there will always be external factors to keep in mind when scheduling. In addition to requests for leave, unexpected absences, emergencies, no-shows and so on, you also need to remember processes and standards like overtime and non productive time, days off and breaks for each person. To protect your client and your company from an uncovered site, a 24/7 alerting mechanism that is built to help you quickly find a qualified replacement is essential. In addition, the scheduling process has to be flexible to allow for exceptions.
Before onboarding employees to a new account, it is vital to understand the expectations of the client and how that translates into which skill sets and processes will be required on-site. Precise planning is the order of the day, before deployment of guards.
Since overtime can be 1.5 or 2 times a regular wage rate, it’s critical to ensure your scheduling process protects the business from overscheduling, or costs will be too high.
Effective systems, automated tasks and processes will limit liabilities, but they can still occur. Make sure you add risk factors like this into processes.
Do your homework about systems and integrations: systems must be able to integrate with each other in order for the end to end process to be automated effectively.
The most effective method of addressing the critical function of scheduling and timekeeping for efficiency is to adopt a security workforce management tool like EasyRoster, which is designed to automate repeatable tasks and simplify changes.
Build a professional guard force
Your security guards are the representatives of your company.
They either inspire trust or confidence in your services, or not.
That has a lot to do with the shift roster.
Scheduling your security staff is vital so that they don’t end up being overworked which leads to poor performance which in turn leads to tarnishing your brand’s reputation.
Neither should staff be underworked so that they don’t earn enough and become disgruntled, leading to possible management and attitude issues which also damages the image of your company.
Use the right technologies
Using the right technologies can have the greatest impact not only on security workforce management, but also on profit.
One of the biggest problems in the security industry is that because many companies have grown quickly, they tend to continue doing things the “old way”, which usually involves paper or Excel spreadsheets.
But this can lead to:
- Missed or double-booked shifts
- Consuming too much of the scheduling time
- Spending too much time making adjustments
- Increased overtime costs due to scheduling errors
- Increased non productive time due to scheduling errors
- No real understanding of the health of the operations unit
- Human error which costs time and money and can lead to auditing issues
- Frustration by staff
- Over / under posting
Traditional ways of doing things just don’t measure up when compared to the power of technology.
For example, buddy clocking is a common problem that can be overcome with biometric clocking technology. Payroll systems can be integrated into other security guard scheduling technology to eliminate human error, decrease time, and increase productivity.
Security management software
Out of all the technologies, security management software makes the biggest impact on the bottom line, in the shortest space of time. Profit increases because of the software:
- Saves time and money
- Streamlines processes
- Frees up resources
- Can be accessed from anywhere, on any device
- Increases customer satisfaction
- Helps identify problems
- Assists in meeting contractual obligations
Security workforce management technology is able to integrate with other systems, like payroll, so that nothing needs to be done manually. It offers these features:
- Companies can manage staff at various client locations
- Time and attendance tracking
- Manage absenteeism
- Prevents buddy clocking
- Reduces overtime and non production time
- Over/under posting. Allocating the correct personnel
- Advanced reporting
- Payroll systems
- Site and contract management
Do your homework before purchasing technologies
A lot of businesses come to a realisation that they require certain technology in order to improve processes, but then fail to research the available software to find out which will suit their needs.
No matter which category of software, each varies and it is those variables that can make all the difference to the software optimising workflows, or detracting from them.
So before you buy any technology, first take the time to decide what you need from the software, and then do your homework to find out the features of each to ensure it meets your expectations.
Here’s an example: let’s say you are looking for a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool.
You purchase the first one you find. However, it is a tool for large businesses of more than 500 staff members, while your business has 50 employees. The tool for the large business is going to have a lot more features than you need, and as such, you will pay a lot more for it. Software that has less features but will serve your purposes will cost a lot less.
Avoid purchasing technology to solve a once-off issue
There are all sorts of cool gadgets that can be bought! Cameras, access control readers, interactive voice response systems… It’s common to buy the newest gadget to solve a once-off issue without first thinking about the big picture.
For instance, a standalone call-in system may improve incident reporting numbers, but to really prove worthwhile, it should be integrated into the company’s security workforce management platform to make it meaningful: to collect, store and report incident data that can be actioned so that there are continual operational improvements.
It is important to first fully understand the problem you want to solve and how it fits into the bigger picture.
Give your employees the tools they need
One of the biggest mistakes companies make, is a failure to remove mundane tasks, and to make employees use outdated or incorrect technology that causes frustration. Or expect tasks to be carried out by employees that don’t have the right tools for the job.
So firstly, if your company is not already using technology to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, your operational costs will become too high to stay competitive.
The ultimate goal is to identify where and when technology can improve operational processes in order to free up your resources and only rely on them for those tasks that require it.
This approach dramatically improves employee engagement levels, which is key in the security industry which is prone to resource shortages.
Secondly, do all your staff have the tools they need to carry out their duties effectively? It is management’s responsibility to look into this and provide what’s missing, as staff often lack the courage to speak up.
Revolve operations around data
Data tells stories. And you need stories to understand the health of your business, if you’re meeting contractual obligations, and for the purposes of this article, the health of your workforce.
Are your clocking systems working effectively? If there is no data, how would you know?
Typically, many businesses in the security industry do not understand the value of data.
The data that comes from security workforce management software allows discovery, and interpretation of meaningful patterns. The data provides insight to help understand what’s really going on in operations and analysis shows how things can become more efficient.
Not only does data analysis provide a view of the business, but it also provides data that your clients will value, because the data demonstrates to them what they are paying for.
With data insights, your business can provide the client with information about anything related to the service they are paying for, such as the type and number of incidents reported, or the time of day when most incidents are likely to occur.
The more insight your business has about it’s workforce, the better management can lead.
In addition, the more insights about the security service they are paying for can be presented to clients, plus how resources are being utilised, or where money can be saved, the more likely you are to win their trust and loyalty, and so retain them as clients.
Don’t allow your data to go to waste. It tells a meaningful story that has the power to transform your operations and your bottom line.
Make sure you choose the right security workforce management software to streamline actions like scheduling and attendance, then turn the data into a meaningful report that can be used for decision making.
A list of what encompasses efficient security workforce management:
- Building an efficient security guard force.
- Using the correct technology to streamline operations, save money and boost productivity. Make sure you research various options and make your selection based on company requirements.
- Provide the right tools for employees to work efficiently.
- Make data, analysis and reporting a priority, as a way of making continual operational improvements, and for customer satisfaction.
I am the Business Development Manager of a division within Adapt IT that focuses on providing companies who use or require Workforce Management Software to assist them in running their operations as efficiently as possible. I have worked with clients in over 15 countries and have provided training sessions to groups of people for the past 10 years.