What motivates security guards?

by FM Media
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An in-depth study has been conducted to find out what motivates security guards. The resulting report provides guidance on measuring security guards’ motivation and how to increase motivation.

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI)’s protective security advice is aimed at reducing the vulnerability of the UK’s critical national infrastructure to national security threats, such as terrorism and espionage. As part of this endeavour, the CPNI has observed that motivating what is in most cases a lowly paid security guarding workforce to carry out such an important duty with appropriate diligence is challenging.
It has conducted an in-depth study in conjunction with the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) to try to better understand what motivates security guards, with the overall objective of:

  • improving security levels
  • gaining a greater understanding of the typical security guard
  • improving key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • retaining staff and reducing absenteeism
  • ensuring greater compliance, and
  • building a company’s reputation.

The findings of this study have been made available in a report entitled Motivation Within the Security Industry. Although it has been conducted by UK associations, the report has worldwide applicability nevertheless.

The report notes that following an in-depth assessment of security officers’ working across the Critical National Infrastructure, four essential components of security officer’s motivation were found:

  1. Job satisfaction
  2. Staff engagement
  3. Job fulfilment
  4. Pride in job

According to the report, separately, all of these aspects will contribute to what an individual finds particularly motivating in his or her work, and taken as a whole they provide the elements that will impact on an employee’s overall motivation. Job satisfaction is described by the report as “whether staff feel happy and (intrinsically) rewarded by their job”. It adds that it also includes the extent to which other people, for example members of the public, show their appreciation or dissatisfaction with their activities.
Staff engagement is concerned with the extent to which employees feel that they are involved in making the decisions that affect how and how well they do their job and that there is scope for them to develop and be proactive in security operations, according to the report. Whereas, job fulfilment is concerned with the extent to which employees feel their job gives them the opportunity to work to their full potential, according to the report. It states that there are several dimensions to this component including the extent to which they think other people, for example members of the public, appreciate the value of their work, the quality of the training they have received and the extent to which they are allowed to do as good a job as they could.
The final motivation, pride in job, has two main aspects, the report imparts. The first concerns whether employees feel that their organisation, or their part of the organisation, is engaged in important work and has high standards. The second concerns whether individual employees believe that their own job is important and that they themselves work to high standards.

One section of the report provides advice on motivating security officers. It imparts how to measure motivation and contains a comprehensive guidance on potential interventions to help address any identified motivational issues and challenges.
According to the report, when running a motivation project, the first stage involves preparations, such as identifying a principal point of contact (POC), identifying indicators of success (for example business KPIs, changes in staff turnover and absenteeism), and identifying stakeholders and interested parties in the study and outlining their responsibilities.
The second step comprises measuring current motivation levels. This requires deciding on the most suitable method of collecting data (for example a questionnaire), and the best method for distributing and collecting questionnaires, and communicating your intentions to the security officers.
The third step involves analysing the data. This data can then by used to make decisions about the interventions that can be used to help improve motivation. The report provides a motivation analysis tool in which the results of each security officer’s responses can be entered. These results then need to be understood and interpreted.
The next step involves planning targeted interventions based on the results. The report includes an interventions table that provides potential interventions that could help improve motivation.Other useful information is contained in the report’s case studies section, which details examples of organisations’ successful initiatives to improve motivation. A meeting with relevant stakeholders must be held to produce the intervention project plan.
Next, the plans need to be communicated to the security officers and other stakeholders, and then the interventions need to be conducted. The initiatives need to be constantly monitored and the performance indictors need to be tracked. In addition, communication with security officers needs to be maintained, the report notes.
The final stage involves measuring motivation levels again to see where motivation levels have improved or if there are new areas for concern.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded by clicking on this link.

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