Recently, there was an interesting comment left in LinkedIn’s Security Specialists Group on our recent article The Basics of Hiring Security Guards: Who, Where, When, and How. The article focused on what I believe are sound practices for hiring security guards. The commenter left a response taking issue, not with the article, but with my use of the term “Security Guard”. His exact comment was:
The first thing that comes to mind is the word “Guard”.
I am trapped in an industry that calls itself the guard industry and then complains when their “guards” don’t live up to the standard that the salesman sold the client.
Try two things:
Quit calling our employees guards
Quit hiring those that can’t meet the standard you set.
If you just need a warm body, then you deserve what you get.
If you are understaffed, look at your salesman, capabilities and hiring pool.
If you are a 300% turnover company, you are probably selling and managing outside of your capabilities. If you are hiring more than two people for the same position in a year, you are the problem, not your “Officers”.
To which I replied:
@John at one point I was totally in agreement with the “Call them ‘Officers’ not ‘Guards'” frame of mind but I have changed my opinion on that. It doesn’t matter what a person’s title is, if they are not going to be professional in the way they carry themselves it just won’t matter. IMO the problem with the security guard industry, as @Richard stated, is that the buyer of these services is undereducated about what they are buying. If you, as a salesman for a security guard company, do a poor job of articulating what you offer and just decide to compete on price, they your officers/guards are going to be paid peanuts. Worse yet, is if your security guard company doesn’t give the salesperson anything to compete with, other than saying “We hire better” or “We train better”.
As stated above, at one point I ardently believed in using the term “Security Officer” and not “Security Guard”. But in recent years I have changed my opinion and am totally apathetic to either. In fact, I don’t think that anyone outside of the security guard industry cares which term is used. So if it doesn’t matter to the general public or your customers, why should it matter to you? To test my hypothesis, I took a VERY unscientific poll of several non-industry people to determine what they thought the differences between a security guard and a security officer were. I discovered that they had absolutely no idea that there was supposed to be a difference. To my point, some even asked “What’s a security officer?”
Based on my experiences, the “Guard” vs “Officer” debate is largely irrelevant and needs to be mothballed until we can make real progress on the challenges that the industry faces:
- Uneducated customers;
- Homogeneity of service;
- Lack of innovation;
- Lack of standards;
- Low billing rates;
- The low wages resulting from all of the above.
Without addressing these fundamental issues, arguing “Guard” vs. “Officer” is just folly. If you disagree, I would love to hear why. Or if your use of the term “Security Officer” has impacted your business I would love to hear about that as well. Please feel free to leave your comments below.
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