News & Information

Building a Better Officer: New Ways to Decrease Turnover and Increase Efficiency

By Paul Hughes · October 1, 2014

Recently, a discussion on LinkedIn asked the following question: “How do we reduce turnover among our security staff?” While many of the responses focused on training and recognition, there exists the notion that something is inherently wrong with the people who take those hourly officer positions. The real underlying concern isn’t, “Are we hiring the wrong people?” but instead, “What’s wrong with the way we are managing our people, and how do we develop the most effective and valuable security force possible?”

The answer begins with a close look at the way we traditionally classify the more than one million security officers in the United States: unarmed or armed? Armed security officers are more likely to be aligned with law enforcement, have tactical training, and be experienced with lethal weapons that are disallowed in some campus settings. Unarmed officers are typically younger, less experienced, earning a much lower hourly rate or salary (as low as $8.43/hour and a mean annual wage of just over $27,000 [BLS]). Ultimately, these unarmed officers are the employees who are expected to deliver an appropriate response, frequently without appropriate equipment or training.

The reason that security guards turnover at an astonishingly high rate — 400% — is also an indicator of operational risk. The avoidable risks that create a dispirited workforce also get companies in trouble with liability litigation. A security company executive said to us recently, “When they’re quitting your company to work for 50 cents less at McDonald’s, they aren’t quitting because of the pay.”

The True Cost of Avoidable Risk

A liability legal judgment can cost enough to put a smaller guard service company out of business overnight. For a large organization like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were recently found partially liable for the beating of a fan that left him brain damaged, the judgment of $13.9 million is just the beginning of the fallout from inadequate and poorly prepared security forces. If building a better guard is the key to avoiding litigation, then why isn’t everyone doing it? There’s a misconception that it costs too much. Even a large organization like the Dodgers isn’t exempt from these mistakes. One former officer testified that the organization was ill-equipped to handle the massive crowd that arrived for opening day in 2011 when the beating incident occurred: “This is the first security job that I had worked where there really wasn’t any order to how things should be done as far as my safety, the protection of fans.” You can figure out how much that type of mistake is costing your organization. Assign a true dollar value to each of the following operational costs associated with lost employees.

No-shows: To re-assign staff and pay overtime covering absent officers will increase costs. Above average turnover: A study from the Center for American Progress on the cost of turnover says it will cost you about 16% of that person’s annual salary to replace him. Replacing lost business with new business: You’ll typically spend eight times as much earning a new account as you will maintaining the one you have. If you’re spending more to recover from turnover than you are on your equipment, it’s time to invest in better equipment.

There’s no mystery about it, security jobs come with personal risk. A recent spate of stabbings on hospital and school campuses has changed the language of planning for violent attacks from “active shooter response” to “urgent response.” While these types of attacks statistically are rare, unarmed officers do face armed attacks. Even with all the pieces in place for protecting a campus, the most essential piece is still human. A Michigan State University study concluded, “Many states still lack any training standards — meaning security guards must learn on the job if their company doesn’t provide training — while some states do not require any minimum education or even a criminal background check for guards.”
Ideally, the campus will have enacted training scenarios on a well-documented response plan, including emphasis on the role of the nonsworn campus security officer. That role is not to apprehend and detain an aggressor. A nonsworn officer should be capable of calling for assistance and immediately taking action that will delay and deter an attack on others while law enforcement arrives.

Because campuses may be located in or adjacent to high crime areas, the risk assessment should extend beyond the campus. Employees, students, visitors and patients may have to traverse areas with more known crime — such as parking garages — to reach their destination. In a healthcare setting, guards may be one part safety patrol and one part customer service, both keeping the peace and helping people who arrive distressed and in need of attention. They also are the front-line defense against people who are there to conduct illegal business such as stealing cars, dealing drug, and committing assaults.

Add in the potential for violence in an environment that is already stacked with vulnerabilities, and the role of the campus security officer demands more control than the average duty belt provides.

Burnout and the Duty Belt

If there is one notion that holds the security industry back from breaking out of its own stereotypes, it’s the false choice between unarmed and armed, and all the assumptions that follow. That’s a discussion that takes us to the duty belt.

Which tools to place on a guard’s duty belt can be a fiery topic. Is the belt carrying more than you need, or less than you want? Does it have too much force or too little defensive capability? All of which lead to risk and liability for the security provider and the client. Besides his own swagger, the only thing between a guard and a potentially bad incident outcome is the duty belt. Without the right tools, this can create a desperate situation, especially for a lone guard on foot patrol with responsibility for acres of campus and hundreds of lives.

A new classification of device has emerged that addresses the issue for security professionals of too little/too much, plus the need for quick communication and defense. An Enhanced Non- Lethal, or ENL, device combines the functions of several duty belt tools. The ability to immediately alert a supervisor to an incident in progress is crucial, as is the ability to accurately document that event and take steps to prevent escalation of the crime. Those actions can require three or four tools to accomplish, making the guard a soft target and putting the perpetrator at the advantage. For that reason, to be classified as an ENL, a device must offer two or more non-lethal technologies for de-escalation and an integrated alerting/communication capability in one platform.

The introduction of ENL devices into the previously “unarmed” guard category opens up a completely new offering for security operations: the “Intermediate” patrol. Consider all the tools that an unarmed officer on foot patrol on a college campus may be required to carry: they may be equipped with pepper spray, a flashlight, a baton, a radio with backup battery and/or a cellphone. If a situation occurs, an emergency response plan dictates the order in which actions to protect the campus and its constituents should occur, but a perpetrator’s plans seldom accommodate. And no matter how skilled the officer, he only has two hands.

Intermediate Response Wins Business

Intermediate response as a skill set is a new offering in the security marketplace. With this ENL capability, the security officer is now more confident and amply trained, which increases his or her value to the campus, lowers risk, and enhances the safety of everyone involved.

The winning point here is that the campus security officers have the right tools for the job without making administrators queasy about the potential use-of-force risk scenario that accompanies an armed security team.
Now that you know what turnover is costing you, it’s clear how intermediate defense can be a game changer.

Intermediate Response and the Security Officer: Paired for Success

Campuses of all sizes and types face huge responsibilities to assure the safety of their residents, visitors, patients and staff, and protection of their own assets. Add to these the responsibility to train, equip and elevate the confidence of their security team. Deploying intermediate, Enhanced Non-Lethal (ELN) tools offers defense and protection against risk and liability all in one tool — ENLs can produce better outcomes through incident control, staff morale and retention, as well as new offerings to bolster the bottom line.

Contact us to find out more
Call Murray Guard at (1-800) 238-3830

A new look and feel for the Murray Guard website

You may have noticed a new look and feel to the Murray Guard website. We’ve freshened up the graphic design to improve readability, especially on smartphones and tablets. We’ve also updated our content to reflect the latest information about the company and to sharpen the focus on our commitment to people, performance and accountability.

In addition, our News & Information section has been reformatted as a blog to keep the latest news in front of you whenever you visit the site. Our Job Listings section and Contact page have been updated as well.

Enjoy the new features and the fresh look. Contact us and let us know what you think!

Determining When to Use a Contract Security Officer Workforce

“Converting from an in-house, proprietary workforce to a contracted workforce more often than not yields an immediate and truly significant contribution to stated earnings. It is in an area, however, which can be very emotional and upsetting for the corporate culture if not properly managed (highlight and italics added). Conversely, if professionally and humanistically executed, it can have an extremely positive effect on the organization and its customer base.” 1

“What makes a company select a contract service or proprietary service? Several factors are involved: selection process, reliability, loyalty, cost effectiveness, insurance, retirement, hospitalization, liability, manpower, etc. As a prediction, in the future, proprietary guard users will continue to use proprietary unless financial consideration enters the picture, and contract guard users will continue to use contract. As a side light, an emotional component enters into the decision. If the Security Director has had a bad experience with one, he may lean toward the other. This emotional coloring may account for the fact that many of the same praises are sung for both.” 2

What factors are relevant in determining a conversion to a Contract Security Workforce? (more…)

How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure

Protecting your personal information can help reduce your risk of identity theft. There are four main ways to do it: know who you share information with; store and dispose of your personal information securely, especially your Social Security number; ask questions before deciding to share your personal information; and maintain appropriate security on your computers and other electronic devices. (more…)

Office Creeper Awareness & Prevention

Editor’s Note: The myth about office creepers is that this individual stands out in a crowd; a person not dressed well, down on his/her luck, a loner.  This is not always the case especially in buildings where there may be a diverse tenant/resident mix.  In some cases the office creeper may work or live among us. The best defense is to be mindful of your surroundings, be careful not to allow individual(s) to tailgate when you enter the building, keep your personal items out of sight, always lock your door when you leave. Remember the office creeper generally works quickly, and is looking for an easy target. It is up to you not to become a victim. Report any suspicious activity to security, building management, and the police. (more…)

Active Shooter – Safety and Security Bulletin

When an Active Shooter is in your vicinity, you must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with the situation.

You have Three (3) Options:

EVACUATE- When an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • If there is a way out, and you can get out, GET OUT!  This is your first and best option.
  • Get out whether others agree to or not.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Help others from entering the danger zone.
  • Call Police at 911 when safe to do so.

HIDE - If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide.

  • Lock and/or barricade the door.
  • Silence your cell phone.
  • Hide behind large objects if possible.
  • Remain very quiet and do not leave until directed by law enforcement officers.
  • Your hiding place should:
    • Be out of the shooter’s view.
    • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
    • Do not trap or restrict your options for movement.

TAKE ACTION – AS A LAST RESORT, and only if your life is in danger:

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
  • Act with physical aggression.
  • Improvise weapons.
  • Commit to your actions.

(more…)

Get the facts on the recent increase in the minimum wage for Federal Contract Workers.

Raising the Minimum Wage through Executive Order to $10.10 for Federal Contract Workers & Calling on Congress to Finish the Job for All Workers by Passing the Harkin-Miller Bill

Today, continuing to fulfill his promise to make 2014 a year of action, the President will sign an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers.

The Executive Order the President will sign today will benefit hundreds of thousands of people working under contracts with the federal government who are making less than $10.10 an hour. It will also improve the value that taxpayers are getting from the federal government’s investment. Studies show that boosting low wages will reduce turnover and absenteeism, while also boosting morale and improving the incentives for workers, leading to higher productivity overall. These gains improve the quality and efficiency of services provided to the government.

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama pledged to both take executive action wherever he can and work with Congress to increase opportunity for all Americans. Consistent with that pledge, the President will continue to work with Congress to finish the job to raise the minimum wage for all Americans and pass the Harkin-Miller bill so that all workers can be paid at least a $10.10 minimum wage.

Details of the Executive Order

  • The Executive Order will raise the minimum wage to $10.10 effective for new contracts beginning January 1, 2015. The higher wage will apply to new contracts and replacements for expiring contracts. Boosting wages will lower turnover and absenteeism, and increase morale and productivity overall. Raising wages for those at the bottom will improve the quality and efficiency of services provided to the government.
  • Benefits hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans. There are hundreds of thousands of people working under contracts with the federal government to provide services or construction who are currently making less than $10.10 an hour. Some examples of the hardworking people who would see their wages go up under this Executive Order include nursing assistants providing care to our veterans at nursing homes, concessions workers in National Parks, people serving food to our troops, and individuals with disabilities working to maintain the grounds on military bases.
  • Includes an increase in the tipped minimum wage. This executive order also includes provisions to make sure that tipped workers earn at least $10.10 overall, through a combination of tips and an employer contribution. Employers are currently required to pay a minimum base wage of $2.13 per hour, a base that has remained unchanged for over twenty years, and if a worker’s tips do not add up to the minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. Under the Executive Order, employers are required to ensure that tipped workers earn at least $10.10 an hour. The Executive Order requires that employers pay a minimum base wage of $4.90 for new contracts and replacements for expiring contracts put out for bid after January 1, 2015. That amount increases by 95 cents per year until it reaches 70 percent of the regular minimum wage, and if a worker’s tips do not add up to at least $10.10, the employer will be required to pay the difference.
  • Covers individuals with disabilities. Under current law, workers whose productivity is affected because of their disabilities may be paid less than the wage paid to others doing the same job under certain specialized certificate programs. Under this Executive Order, all individuals working under service or concessions contracts with the federal government will be covered by the same $10.10 per hour minimum wage protections.
  • Improves value for the federal government and taxpayers. One study showed that when Maryland passed its living wage law for companies contracting with the state, there was an increase in the number of contractors bidding and higher competition can help ensure better quality. The increase will take effect for new contracts and replacements for expiring contracts put out for bid after the effective date of the order, so contractors will have time to prepare and price their bids accordingly.

Continuing to Work With Congress, States and Localities to Help All Workers

The President is using his executive authority to lead by example, and will continue to work with Congress to raise the minimum wage for all Americans by passing the Harkin-Miller bill. The bill would raise the Federal minimum wage for working Americans in stages to $10.10 and index it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years. The President will also continue to support and encourage state, local and private sector efforts to increase wages and help more working families.

  • Businesses like Costco have supported past increases to the minimum wage because it helps build a strong workforce and profitability over the long run. Low wages are also bad for business, as paying low wages lowers employee morale, encourages low productivity, and leads to frequent employee turnover — all of which impose costs.
  • Across the country, Americans are saying it’s time to raise the minimum wage. The President believes that it’s time for action, and people across the country agree. Since the President called for an increase in the minimum wage in last year’s State of the Union, five states have passed laws increasing their minimum wage. And many businesses, from small businesses to large corporations, see higher wages as the right way to boost productivity and reduce turnover and therefore boost their profitability.
  • Raising the minimum wage is good for government, good for business and workers and key to a stronger economy. A range of economic studies show that modestly raising the minimum wage increases earnings and reduces poverty without jeopardizing employment. Higher wages can also boost productivity, increase morale, reduce costs and improve efficiency.
  • Raising the minimum wage will make sure no family of four with a full-time worker has to raise their children in poverty. It has been seven years since Congress last acted to increase the minimum wage and, adjusted for inflation, today the real value of minimum wage is roughly the same as what it was in the 1950s, despite the fact that the typical American family’s income has doubled since then. And right now a full-time minimum wage worker makes $14,500 a year, which leaves too many families struggling to make ends meet. Even after accounting for programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, a family of four supported by a minimum wage worker still ends up living below the poverty line.
  • Indexing the minimum wage to inflation would help lower-income workers keep up in the future. Since it was first established in 1938, the minimum wage has been increased 22 times, but was eroded substantially over several prolonged periods between increases because of inflation. Indexing would prevent a repeat of the 34 percent decline in the real value of the minimum wage from 1978 to 1989 and the 19 percent decline in real value from 1998 to 2006, as well as the 40 percent decline in the real value of the base wage for tipped workers since it was last raised in 1991. Last year alone, workers earning the minimum wage basically got the equivalent of a $200 pay cut because the minimum wage stayed the same while the cost of living went up. Democrats and Republicans agree that indexing the minimum wage to inflation would ensure that working families can keep up with expenses. Unfortunately, those families will continue suffer if Congress continues to not act.
  • Helping parents make ends meet. Around 60 percent of workers who would benefit from a higher minimum wage are women. Less than 20 percent are teenagers. Also, those workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage brought home 46 percent of their household’s total wage and salary income in 2011. Raising the minimum wage directly helps parents make ends meet and support their families.

WARNING : Cybercriminals eye gold with Olympic Games scams

The public’s appetite for scandal around the world is practically insatiable. Not surprisingly, cybercriminals try to take advantage of it, especially during an event like the Olympic Games.

But the good news, say experts, is that the bulk of the scams are unsophisticated, looking to take advantage of so-called “low-hanging fruit.”

One of the more recent, discovered by security vendor Sophos, is a malware campaign that tries to snare victims with a fake scandal at the Olympics. A post by Graham Cluley on Sophos’ Naked Security blog said a spam email comes with a subject line saying: “Huge scandal with the USA Women’s Gymnastics Team on the 2012 London Olympics.”

The body of the email then promises salacious details about USA women’s gymnastics gold-medal winner Gabrielle Douglas facing a lifetime ban after reportedly testing positive to banned diuretic furosemide. “View the video on YouTube now,” it says. (more…)

Murray Guard’s Security Officers Stand Strong During Atlanta’s Winter Storms

Atlanta StormATLANTA, Feb. 01, 2014 … As massive winter storms ripped through Atlanta, forcing the city to a standstill, Murray Guard’s security officers stood by their posts.

The Jan. 28 storm caught many people unprepared when ice and snow covered roadways and commuters left work for home. Highways around the city were gridlocked with traffic accidents and abandoned vehicles. Many businesses were closed, but Murray Guard’s officers would not leave their post until their relief arrived, said Atlanta Branch General Manager Jerry Switalski.

“We didn’t have any open posts for the duration of this,” Switalski said. “

Switalski  and his team hit the roads during the storm driving relief officers to and from their posts throughout the city, using back roads to get around. During the event,  Every officer remained at their post until they were relieved and Murray Guard provided meals to the officers who were pressed into extra duty.

“We had multiple clients call us and praise our officers,” Switalski said.

The city fared much better when the second winter storm arrived February 10th. Officers went to work with extra food, access to a hot shower, and a change of clothes and toiletries, ready for extended shifts, Switalski said.

“We had several days to prepare for  this storm,” Switalski said. “It was tough, but we were prepared for it.”

During the second storm, Switalski again ferried personnel around the city to relieve officers.

“Employees went above and beyond the call during the recent storms”, Switalski said. Long after businesses closed and their employees went home, Murray Guard’s officers stayed behind, protecting clients’ property and assets.

“Every post was filled, every shift was filled, and we exceeded our clients expectations,” he said.

Founded in 1967, Murray Guard provides protection of corporate and industrial assets across the country for companies large and small. Murray Guard has more than 2,500 professionals from 13 branches that are among the highest caliber of security teams available.

Copyright © 2017 Murray Guard Inc.