Don鈥檛 Let Low Employee Morale Get You Down. Instead, Fix It!

Don鈥檛 Let Low Employee Morale Get You Down. Instead, Fix It!

I鈥檓 thankful to work at a company with a terrific work culture, but I haven鈥檛 always been so fortunate. Over the 20 years I served in the NYPD and the next 10 working for my local town as an attorney and the Commissioner of Public Safety, I spent much time within departments suffering from low morale.

As it is within Law Enforcement, low morale is also prevalent in the security industry, particularly among contracted security officers. They rate their job satisfaction in the bottom 7% of careers.[1] The cause-and-effect relationship between low employee morale and an inferior customer experience is well documented. Therefore, part of my job as a security consultant is to help clients create a positive corporate culture. Yes 鈥 our primary business is creating safe and secure environments, but even the best security technologies and programs will fail if they are supported by a disgruntled workforce.

Gallup reports that teams with low morale experience 18 to 43% higher turnover. [2] Glassdoor reports a strong statistical link between customer satisfaction and the well-being of the employees delivering those services. Its study concludes that happy workers lead to happy customers.[3] Research by Eagle Hill Consulting found that 64% of U.S. workers say their employee experience impacts their ability to serve customers, with low-morale workers half as likely to deliver quality outcomes.[4]

Security services management may complain about their workers鈥 lackluster performance, calling in sick, no-shows, and high rates of turnover, but the root of their problem is often not the fault of the employees. It鈥檚 dysfunctional management and the environment they鈥檝e created that makes workers feel unappreciated, unempowered, and underpaid. The first two are things companies can easily fix. As for the third, employees are more than 10 times more likely to leave a job due to a toxic culture than salary.[5] If companies can make employees feel appreciated and empowered, they will save money by reducing workforce churn. This, in turn, could free up money to pay higher wages.

So, how do we fix low employee morale among security guards and others hourly workers in the security services sector? Here is a list of suggestions:

  1. Train your supervisors on how to be effective leaders. The number one reason employees leave their jobs is because of their supervisor. The CEO of Gallup, Jim Clifton, says it best. 鈥淲hen you name the wrong person supervisor, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits 鈥 nothing.鈥[6]

Promoting from within has a positive impact on workers because they see that there are opportunities for advancement, but those benefits only accrue if you provide associated management training. The skills that make a successful 鈥渨orker bee鈥 vastly differ from those needed to manage the hive. Yet 82% of people promoted to supervisory roles do not receive any formal training, according to a 2023 study by the Chartered Management Institute.[7]

  • Solicit feedback from employees. Encourage them to offer solutions 鈥 not just identify problems. Simply being heard immediately makes them feel more valued 鈥 even if acting on their suggestions takes time.

  • Make sure supervisors are clear about expectations and don鈥檛 criticize their underlings鈥 every move, especially if there are no written guidelines defining roles and responsibilities. If your organization lacks such guidelines, create them and put them in writing!  

Everyone on your team, from the top down, should make it a habit to offer praise and recognition for jobs well done. When employees know their efforts are appreciated, they are more likely to repeat them. Small gestures go far!

  • Make security guards feel like they are part of a team. Keep them informed about news or changes happening at the corporate level.

Companies that contract guard services will find that those officers are more dedicated when they feel like they are part of the organization where they are assigned to work. They appreciate inclusion in workplace events and value privileges like access to the company gym and break room.

  • Empower guards so that they can feel pride in their job. Patrolling a predictable route or sitting behind a desk with no power to do anything gets old fast. Provide guards with technology to maintain better situational awareness and tools that alert them to suspicious behavior. When security officers can be strategic and proactive about how they perform their duties, they鈥檒l find their jobs far more exciting and rewarding.

Many of these tactics can be employed by your in-house management team. Corporate culture doesn鈥檛 change overnight, but with dedicated efforts, progress will occur.

Hiring a consultant can be instrumental in moving the process along. An outsider鈥檚 perspective often pinpoints problems and strategizes solutions more objectively than managers who have skin in the game and egos that bruise. If that鈥檚 you, reach out. We may be security consultants, but solving morale issues is essential in running an effective security team. We鈥檙e here to help!

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