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Monday, April 22, 2013

Motivation of Security Officers

As you can see from the date I wrote this essay some years ago about my working conditions and how to motivate security officers. There are a few errors and some other issue with this paper but I do believe I earned and A.

24 April 2009
Richard Leland Neal
Psychology 391
Blackman Tuth 8:30AM-9:45AM
Hard Uniform

I’m a state registered security officer working at a factory making parts for aircraft and military equipment. This position was described as lobby ambassador but what that means was never defined. I’m still in a “hard” uniform that designates me as a security officer rather than an ambassador who would wear something less imposing.
My company claims to refuse to renew its lower paying contracts in an effort to increase pay. However, I believe this is has more to do with overtime costs and a lack of manpower than any effort to improve the conditions for their work force. The possibility of promotion or increased pay through change in contract is the only real monetary motivation we have. Thus, we are subject to merit pay at undefined intervals measured in years. Pay is controlled solely by the negotiation of company and client. This can have some motivating aspects as the action of one guard tends to alter the pay of all, but as good behavior is poorly reinforced this factor is insignificant.
Another motivational program of my company is enrichment through the MSO program. MSO stands for Master Security Officer and is a group of five short classes that provide information about the security industry. Completing of each class results in the employee receiving a pin and some other token of compensation like a lunch bag or coffee mug.   However, this program too falls short of motivating because recognition for completing the training is often unenforced.
Some supervisors have tried motivating guards through fear of termination or an appeal to the sense of national pride but neither of these work well either. For one, security jobs are easy to come by so termination is an idle threat. National pride is another foolish attempt because telling a guard that they should do a better job because they work at a terrorist target only serves to further the idea that pay is inappropriate for work.
To motivate security personnel we must first understand who they are and what they want. Security personnel can be split into three categories; students, moonlighters and career guard. Students are working their way through school and have little interest in promotion. Moonlighters are just looking for extra money and again are hard to motivate. Career guards are generally either undereducated underachievers or retirees who have nothing better to do with their lives. The third category are the longest term employees easiest to motivate and most reliable.    
In order to motivate the whole body of security personnel the existing enrichment program should be revamped and strictly adhered to. With every MSO level in addition to the pin and other prize security officers should be issued more uniforms. Few of us like reusing dirty uniforms and those of us that do would prefer to wash them less frequently so the enrichment would come with functional benefits. In addition we often end up issuing these uniforms regardless so the cost to the company will be minimal.
Another useful motivator would be a set interval compensation for good attendance. Essentially this would be a perfect attendance award given every year to officers who miss no work. This need be no more than a slip of achievement and four hours of regular time added to the guard’s paycheck at the end of the year. This would cost as much as one absence and likely reduce the absence rate of student and moonlighter guards who are more motivated by money and yet have the highest absentee count in the company.  This would look great on resumes and be an encouragement to college students looking to move on.
In terms of those officers who will miss work regardless of this program an absentee evaluation slip given at the end of every year may reduce absences. This would be a written report on how much work the guards missed during the year and a total lost wages on that count. I’ve noted guard missing as many as four Fridays in a row at a cost to them of more than three hundred dollars. Knowing just how much money they are missing may serve to reduce absences and increase company revenue.
Another program I propose is a total Confidence Assurance Pledge. My company has been accused of many things like payroll skimming and failing to pay for hours worked. The Confidence Assurance Pledge or CAP would be an online service that would inform guards of what their contract actually says regarding their pay rate. They would be able to look up pay documentation and read overtime laws for their state. This would allow for quick resolution of pay disputes. Not only would this safeguard against issues like payroll skimming but it would reduce the likelihood of unfavorable ruling in labor disputes. The tendency of a judge in this regard is to rule in favor of whoever has the best kept record and company record would have to be pristine to support CAP.
I have to express that few of these programs would involve monetary compensation because the security industry is subject to harsh competition. If there is one thing I need to be in looking at motivating employees it’s a realist. We could all get guard to work hard for the right prices but getting that money is difficult. It is unfortunate but I must look for motivation elsewhere.