How to Retain Quality Security Employees

How to Retain Quality Security Employees

24 Mar 15

Employee turnover is an issue that affects many industries, but none quite as much as the security industry. The security industry boasts an employee turnover rate rivaling only the fast food industry and doesn’t show any signs of dropping. A normal turnover rate for most industries can fluctuate between 15 – 30%, however the annual turnover rate of an average private security firm exceeds 100% and can even trend as high as 400% for smaller startup firms.

So much rides on a security officer’s knowledge of his organization, surroundings, and a proper response to incidents, that a high turnover rate can have massive effects on an organization’s safety and security. However, the negatives don’t end there; this turnover rate can also drastically impact an organization’s wallet.

How can we as an industry begin to lower this turnover rate?

The first step to lowering a company’s security officer turnover rate is to understand the current staff and how to keep them satisfied in their positions. Knowing where an employee’s wants and needs do not align with what is being offered can provide a better understanding of why an employee may be dissatisfied. This can help bring a company and employee one step closer to having a completely mutually beneficial relationship.

To obtain the information from the staff, a short survey should be administered with questions based on what they like, what they dislike, and what they would change about the job.

While results of the survey may vary (which is why it is very important to conduct your own), past results from various surveys have shown the following are key factors in the high rate of security officer turnover:

  • Stress
  • Pay versus effort
  • Poor recruiting
  • Lack of training
  • Ineffective supervision/Lack of leadership
  • Lack of feedback/recognition/reward
  • Lack of job security
  • No opportunities for advancement
  • Not enough hours
  • Lack of benefits
  • Lack of respect

While some of these factors are out of management’s control, some factors can be changed easily and can have a huge impact on the retention rate of employees. These factors include recruiting, training, and work culture.


Recruiting correctly can have the biggest and longest lasting impact on reducing employee turnover. By finding the “right” person for the job and not necessarily the “best” person, an organization has a better chance of the officer staying longer, being more productive, and being an overall happier employee.

Thoroughly understanding a candidate’s background can help immensely when determining if the candidate is right for the job. Although a candidate’s previous employment experience and education doesn’t tell the whole story about a person, they can help draw ideas on how the candidate may perform in their role.

Another key factor to improve recruiting techniques is to ensure the candidate completely understands the expectations of the job and the daily tasks and activities to be performed. These expectations should show up in any job postings for the position as well as during the interview so candidates know if they are a good fit for the job prior to applying.


One of the biggest issues plaguing the security industry is a lack of thorough training. Although half of all US states lack any requirement for training , and 14 of those require less than three days of general security officer training, this doesn’t mean officers should be provided the minimal (or no) level of training. Proper training greatly mitigates risks of officers making costly mistakes on the job and provides officers with a confidence on how to handle incidents that are thrown their way. On the other hand, officers who lack proper training tend to feel unprepared and are often not confident in their abilities. These uneasy feelings can quickly lead to self-doubt and make the officer question if the job is right for them. Keeping the public as well as the organization as safe as possible is an extremely stressful job, and when you throw in feelings of anxiety or uncertainty, you have the perfect recipe for high turnover rates.

Although keeping track of when officers need retraining can be difficult, security software such as Report Exec makes it easier than ever to know which officers are up-to-date on their training and when they’re required for a retraining.

Ultimately, security officers are an investment and through experience and time spent with the organization they will be able to acquire an understanding of how to perform their job better than any new recruit and in time can even become a training asset.


Another key factor to retain quality officers is through the culture of the organization. It is important for a work culture to instill a sense of open communication, especially between the supervisor and the officer. Officers will find themselves in many situations that may fall into a gray area and having a supervisor to turn to is invaluable for an officer’s ability to learn as well as trust in the company and supervisor.

However, the use of immediate feedback may be the most effective communication method to keeping employees happy and productive. Officers who do not receive immediate feedback often are unsure if they are handling situations correctly and are unable to make changes when needed. Through immediate feedback, officers can learn and improve from their actions before they have a chance to form bad habits.

Overall, a culture of open communication helps produce a happy, trusting, and engaged work force, whereas a lack of communication can lead to a belief that management does not have their best interests in mind.