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Physical security industry tips and best practices for recruiting and retaining top security officers
Employee engagement, recognition initiatives and formal employee feedback programs are all also critically important to retaining top talent
As the security industry continues to grow, recruiting must have more sophisticated
screening and hiring processes, and a commitment to hiring quality personnel

The physical security industry today is driving focus on finding the right talent. Deborah O’Mara,'s dealer/integrator correspondent, in an exclusive Q&A with Brent O’Bryan, Vice President of Training and Development for AlliedBarton Security Services, discuss the challenges that security companies face while recruiting top talent and practices the physical security industry should adopt to attract qualified security officers.

Offering security training and education to hire top talent How important is it for the security industry to attract top talent today? What are some of the ways in which they should do this?

O’Bryan: People want to join growth-oriented job sectors that offer continual training and advancement. The physical security industry and the systems integrator community can attract talent by demonstrating the path to leadership and the training and educational opportunities they offer.

Physical security officer companies offer on-the-job training that is site-specific and customised for each client. The curriculum consists of numerous training modules covering various topics important to clients, the employee and the security industry in general. Ambitious employees can take advantage of a wide variety of courses and training, both online and in the classroom setting, from industry-specific curriculum to personal and professional development.

The physical security sector demands that the security officers’ and managers’ qualifications merit the position. Today’s security officer requires a balance of formal education and industry-specific training to be competitive and effective in their position. Learning continues throughout the career of a security professional. Course work ranges from demanding advanced Master Security Officer courses, e-learning, scenario-based learning and executive leadership modules, classroom instruction and on-the-job training.

Security officers receive significant and ongoing training. Training can include fire safety, terrorism awareness, emergency planning, and evacuation procedures. In addition, officers participate in industry-specific training geared to the market they serve whether it is a petrochemical installation, government facility, shopping mall, hospital, commercial building, residential complex, industrial facility or college.

The physical security sector demands that security officers’ and managers’ qualifications merit their position
Security companies offer on-the-job training for their officers that is site-specific
and customised for each clients’ needs

Combining security technology and management experience What are some of the new and emerging disciplines that are needed, such as IT expertise, integrated systems expertise?

O’Bryan: The physical security sector has benefited from advances in technology. Integrated technology solutions enable more complete and easily searchable databases for visitor logs, real-time incident reports and recordable security officer tours. Security officers monitor state-of-the-art security software and hardware, quickly identifying unusual activity enabling immediate responses. Digital devices and integrated video surveillance allow security officers on patrol to effectively monitor the entire facility.

Additionally, security isn’t the only area of expertise needed in the security industry. The behind-the-scenes support and infrastructure that allow for seamless security programs require professionals in a variety of fields from IT to accounting, legal, HR and more. That, coupled with the business and management experience needed by security managers, positions this industry as a robust opportunity for job seekers looking for meaningful careers.

Career advancement in the security industry What are some of the unique challenges to both the systems integration and end-user communities in attracting talent as the economy improves?

O’Bryan: The physical security sector needs the current generation of high school and college graduates and returning military veterans to take a fresh look at this market as it presents meaningful career opportunities. As the security sector continues to evolve, we need to actively promote our growth and advancements so that professionals see value in a security career. What's important in particular with physical security providers to ensure they keep top talent, such as training, certification, other perks?

O’Bryan: While many people don’t look at the physical security sector as a “glamour” field, the reality is that it is an industry that offers significant opportunity for education, growth and promotion. As the industry continues to grow, there is greater need for sophisticated recruiting, screening and hiring processes, as well as a strict commitment to hiring quality personnel who are a right fit for the position. The physical security sector actively promotes from within by encouraging continual training and education.

Security officers must be trained in using technology, but also in other disciplines such as accouting, IT, legal and HR
Security officers must be trained and proficient in numerous security technologies
and systems integration to effectively monitor their facilities

Employee engagement, recognition initiatives and formal employee feedback programs are all also critically important to retaining top talent. A strong learning culture is also essential. It is important that we, as an industry, invest in our people. At AlliedBarton, for example, in addition to the extensive training courses available to all employees, we also encourage continued learning through higher education and have partnered with several colleges and universities to offer tuition reduction programs to employees.

Nurturing a leadership culture to prevent workplace violence Since workplace violence and active shooters are increasingly in the news, how can individual security companies be prepared in this area and perhaps also help their end-user customers in these areas?

O’Bryan: Numerous studies over the years have proven the link between leadership and physical safety – especially at job sites where there is a higher risk of accidents, such as at industrial facilities. What has been less examined is the relationship between solid leadership and workplace violence prevention. Bill Whitmore, Chairman and CEO of AlliedBarton wrote “Potential Workplace Violence Prevention and Your Organisational Success,” which addresses this in great detail.

We believe that strong and steady leadership is at the heart of workplace violence prevention. Any company that fails to embrace a leadership culture, with a definitive mandate on what defines leadership for each and every employee, will be more prone to an incident of workplace violence.

In terms of helping our clients in their workplace violence prevention planning, every organisation should have a workplace violence prevention plan in place to help avoid a tragic event. Workplace violence happens every day and businesses that are prepared are better positioned to help prevent, respond and recover. We work with leaders at all levels to develop a plan that works best for their organisation since there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

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