FMJ takes a look at the security industry, investigating the widening role of security staff. Traditionally these men and women might have been thought of as just standing guard, or going on patrol (at the dead of night with a just torch and a German Shepherd for company). But in the twenty first century the other jobs they are being asked to do are becoming further and further removed from these outdated clichés, from escort duty to weighbridge operation, FMJ talks to three industry experts to find the details
OPERATIONS DIRECTOR MANNED GUARDING
Manned security services have traditionally been involved simply with letting people into and out of buildings, but alongside the introduction of new technology, there is a developing trend across a range of industry sectors for guards to take on a broader role.
Neil Barham, operations director manned guarding, at security specialists Trigion, said: “Our focus is on customer requirements and making sure that we provide cost effective services. In times of financial pressure clients will always review ‘nice to have’ services and that can sometimes mean cutting down on manned security. Therefore we have actively expanded the services we offer to cover a wide range of other areas as well. That way we can put the right people in the right place for our clients.
“This develops our security colleague’s roles in a number of different ways. In offices, for example, they may now manage receptions and switchboards or produce security and visitor badges. Guards can also get involved in other clerical projects, such as fulfilling mailshots. We have had our employees take on responsibilities for fire issues, including acting as fire marshals or providing fire training. The widened role is good for the client, who gets a cost effective more complete service; the guard, who gets increased job security and satisfaction, and for us as we get to maintain and develop relationships with our clients.
“The expanded role is very much part of our ethos of offering a ‘people plus’ solution for our clients so that we go beyond basic service levels. We aim to develop our Trigion colleagues to allow them to gain and use a wide range of skills and get increased job satisfaction. We offer all our people the chance to take part in our ‘Hostmanship’ training – what we call ‘the art of making people feel welcome’ which applies to clients, site visitors and colleagues.
This training in customer care and communications skills is reflected in our guards’ roles as concierges in offices and shopping centres. They no longer need to usher visitors to take a seat and wait, but can instead take them to their appointment. This means less waiting around for the visitor and less disruption for the client. In retail situations they can now be customer liaison points and run helpdesks. If you meet one of them while out shopping they can now advise you which shops sell suits and which might be best for you. Our guards are also taking on general maintenance tasks, so instead of reporting a problem, be it a broken light bulb or leaking tap, they can fix it.
“The changing role is visible in more high specification security too. We now have guards working in ports as port security systems operators dealing with the transfer of passengers and life jackets. This was previously seen as a customer service role.
“The challenges we face in the security industry are always changing, but by developing the skills of our guards we are ensuring we offer an adaptable service so we can keep our clients safe and happy.”