In the Security Industry Association’s (SIA’s) 2022 Security Megatrends report, workforce development was listed as the No. 5 Security Megatrend, citing the biggest area of pain for integrators was finding the talent needed to get the work done. With the labor shortage integrators are experiencing, the employee processes within the security industry need to be reexamined when it comes to employee empowerment, employee retention and the employee experience.
When people hear the term “people analytics,” there can be some confusion, especially in the security industry, since the systems revolve around risk management and people. For this article, people analytics relates to how an organization uses its human talent to make decisions based on data, processes and the employee experience, which contribute to the overall strategic plan of the organization that can impact customers, marketing and finance. People analytics encompasses the entire employee journey, from onboarding to developing skills, feeling psychologically safe, mentoring, business performance, culture, leadership, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, with the overall goal being a holistic solution.
Risk management can help with assessing the threats and opportunities for the business. In March 2020 when the government started implementing COVID-19 protocols, it was a huge issue for organizational security. Money had to be reallocated to ensure social distancing guidelines could be followed for personnel who were required to be onsite. Some organizations shifted to a remote work model for employees who were not needed onsite to complete their jobs. Over two years later, many people have not returned to the office full-time, and there is no expected date for many organizations. Within the security industry, installations had to be delayed to ensure enrollments and compliance were met, but that doesn’t mean people are not at increased risk while working remotely. Risk management comes in many forms, from losing great employees to not being open to ideas or trends that are going on in the marketplace, employee development, toxic culture and productivity. How your organization responds to risk can send nonverbal messages to employees, and it is important to assess whether the organization needs to revise policies and processes to ensure the best outcome for the business.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, many disruptions in the workplace created situations that businesses were not prepared for. With regards to risk management, the topic of mental health needs to be addressed within each organization. It is no longer good enough to assume people are doing okay. The burnout that people are feeling can be overwhelming because the past 2+ years have been lived in a state of uncertainty, causing constant adjustment in people’s professional and personal lives. Within the security industry, we as businesses have a responsibility to our internal employees to ensure we are correctly analyzing the risks of situations we are creating within our organizations when it comes to change management and operating processes.
When we leverage people analytics in the security industry, issues such as diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I); training; burnout; employee morale; and corporate social responsibility can become part of the strategic plan, not just a reactionary state when a situation arises. There are benefits to using people analytics within your organization that can lead to positive business outcomes: an equitable workplace, increased profitability through machine learning, cultural change and organizational scalability. As organizations grow, they have new issues that arise, and with risk management if these issues are not addressed the negative results could cause layoffs or the business to close.
Within the security industry, we use probability as a method of risk assessment for providing recommendations, but with using people analytics, businesses need to assess data as well as employee feedback to listen to what messages employees are trying to send. Various tools can help an organization assess its culture, success and when something might not be normal within an organization, but without using artificial intelligence to scan the data, it won’t create the reports for various leadership teams to try to figure out the trends that can help optimize the employee experience. When it comes to using machine learning, it is important to have the right personnel conducting the analysis and modeling; otherwise, the outputs will not be reliable or valid. From a risk management perspective, if the software or tool is used incorrectly, it can create bias or discrimination.
Analyzing organizational processes with data can add value by identifying trends that otherwise might go unnoticed. It is no longer good enough to have a sales rep just sell a job, but all the associated processes need to be examined to know the true profitability or loss of the job. As employees charge their time to a job this allows for increased accuracy when it comes to pricing and can assist in increased profitability for the organization. When it comes to estimation error and calculating the probability of the events occurring if the estimates are wrong it could be detrimental to the business brand, customers, and the bottom line of the business. Moreover, when it comes to the business stakeholders and estimation error, it can cause the stakeholders to try and take risks that could prove to not be a good outcome for the business. Data can be analyzed in various ways and it is important to know your organizational health. What is the data telling you within your organization? Who is analyzing the data? What are you doing with the data?
The role of software in the workplace to assist people with decision making and having information quickly available will continue to advance at a rapid speed. People already rely on having information at their fingertips for personal data such as banking, news, sports and stocks, and now that businesses are utilizing this data to reach their customers the number of jobs in the security industry will keep increasing adding to the shortage of qualified workers. Using data for strategic decision making allows leaders to see possible outcomes of the decisions before they make them.
A common theme in business is lack of time and lack of resources, whether that be money, personnel or tools to get the job done. There are ways in which organizations can get creative with minimal to no additional costs to acknowledge and implement employee requests. It is important for employees to feel valued in the organization and not just a commodity. People want to know they matter in the workplace, and if they do not feel valued, they will go find employers who do make them feel valued. Organizations can offer programs, with some suggestions being training and mentoring, health and wellness, diversity and inclusion and flexible work schedules.
Training and Mentoring
Training and mentoring are important to continue organizational success. Organizations do not always adjust when personnel changes occur, which can cause overload on the proverbial “unicorns” and “rock stars,” and then wonder why employees burn out and leave and can’t get people to replace them. People enjoy learning new skills that can be applied, which can benefit the business by having multiple people trained to complete tasks. It is important to reflect on who might have taken some time to teach you something that helped you get to the position you are in now. If you want to move up or change positions, look at the position you want to go to. What are the skills that you need to get there? It is helpful to learn the required skills or reach out to people as possible mentors for a new role. The security industry is unique with the problems we solve, and it is essential to develop our people to continue providing the best solutions for our customers.
Health and Wellness
Organizations are giving “Wellness Days” to their employees to use for their mental health or physical health. Reframe “sick days” if your organization offers them, and give employees the chance to use them for personal wellness and the opportunity to schedule the days in advance. Provide employees the opportunity to share how they might be volunteering on their wellness day or if they are training for some sort of health goal. These additional benefits can help increase employee morale and reduce the number of call-out days, since people may feel they need to use a “sick day” because they earned it. Additionally, think of the lost productivity of having to try and reschedule to cover someone’s appointments or meetings for an unplanned call-off when the person could have scheduled it in advance. Risk management can help reduce having a disappointed customer or frustrated employees who are always having to cover for others who call out.
Diversity and Inclusion
As the workforce is culturally diverse and businesses are interacting on a global scale, each organization needs to adapt. Each employee has something unique that makes them who they are and should be celebrated! Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace are important to people analytics since inclusion allows people to be their true selves, which can enhance the total employee experience. Offer ways for employees to give feedback, such as employee resource groups, where employees can share and connect. Employee resource groups are a great way to build talent and create a safe place. Allowing employees to help create the processes can also create employee buy-in and postiviely impact the organizational culture. New positions are being created called listening officers, whose jobs are to monitor the internal and external communications of an organization. The feedback obtained can be incorporated into the organizational strategic plans and process improvement.
The SIA 2022 Security Megatrends report says, “Promoting the industry as being open a diverse workforce can remove the self-limiting hiring challenges,” but each organization needs to ensure they are contributing to raising awareness of the uniqueness each person can bring to the organization. Too often, organizations are too busy or do not have a specialist on staff to explore the diversity initiatives of employees within the organization, but it is recommended to ask for volunteers. Acknowledge holidays of all cultures and ask if any employees would like to do a short presentation about a holiday and how they celebrate it or what it means to them. Offering voluntary training within each organization is a big step towards creating diversity awareness which individuals might not be familiar with. Diversity training could be an optional event such as a “lunch and learn” where people can gather to discuss how cultural differences can impact communication styles or other topics. There are many other diversity topics from which to select, but scheduling optional events for employees to attend can start building relationships as people personally grow and connect with others.
Flexible Work Schedules
With COVID, a lot of people have worked remotely, and a recent study showed 46.29% of people would possibly quit their jobs if they were required to return to the office post-pandemic. The majority of people in the study preferred the option of a hybrid work model, part on-site and part remote, but an issue where this impacts organizations is when it comes to job satisfaction. If someone is unhappy with their current work situation, they will look for a new job that gives them what they want. From a risk management perspective, the organization is going to lose personnel, which will ultimately cost more money to find a replacement and train them.
Flexible work schedules have taken on new meaning during COVID. Some examples are four-day work weeks, asynchronous versus synchronous schedules, hybrid models, remote and work from anywhere. During COVID, some leaders within the security industry on LinkedIn asked if the industry could do four days a week, and there were mixed results from people in the industry. Several customers during the pandemic have requested technicians to do a four-day work week, which reduces the number of escorts needed for the customer. The switch from five to four days per week did not cost the company any extra money, and employees are enjoying an extra day off per week. The organization can stagger the four-day work week with some employees working to ensure continuity of operations. Ultimately, the company saves on resources, especially if the employees are driving company vehicles. Shorter work weeks offer 52 fewer days of commuting or more if combined with remote work, fewer chances of auto accidents by having fewer days of driving and lower fuel costs. When examining risk management, it is important to look at the benefits of implementing a four-day work week internal to the company benefits and employee satisfaction and the external benefits of customer satisfaction. Now, some naysayers say “It won’t work for my organization,” but if implemented properly, it could revolutionize your organization! It could save your organization money, increase employee morale, reduce mileage on company vehicles and be a recruiting tool for people who know they work four days a week instead of five. It could also be a retention tool because people will not want to leave the organization due to this benefit.
With people working remotely, there can be different time zones, and allowing employees to work when it best for them is an example of asynchronous scheduling. Synchronous scheduling can cause stress for employees who have to commute during rush hour, make sure to be home by a certain time for after-school responsibilities or tend to doctor’s appointments for members of their families. All of these incorporate into the total employee experience and how each organization responds to these influences the level of risk associated with the behavior. Employees could have added stress or distractions that interfere with “being present” at certain times or locations.
COVID has reshaped the total employee experience and shown that people can still get their jobs done without micromanagement. The security industry has a high stress rate, which is not good for risk management for the internal industry companies and the customers we serve. When adding to the stress, an employee might be faced with tasks that are not necessary, which may contribute negatively to the total employee experience. Security companies need to identify best practices for their organization and be willing to “learn” new methods for getting the work completed. Just as each individual is unique, so is each company and how you treat the people who work for you will be the best method of marketing. People want to work for organizations that are taking innovative measures when it comes to workplace practices – and companies stand to benefit from greater productivity, higher profitability and increased retention that comes from people who feel valued and prioritized by their employers.
Jill Frack, DBA, MAIOP, PMP, is a senior project manager at Integrated Security Technologies, Inc.