In part two of our series we are examining one of the components that should be included in your security guard vendors billing rate, security guard training. We talk about the other billing rate components in part one of the series “Understanding The Billing Rate For Your Contract Security Force“.
One of the biggest challenges a security guard contract manager faces is the training and development of their contract security force. In their proposals, the majority of security guard contractors tend to highlight their internal standards of security guard training in very general terms. However, to reduce their overall billing rate the amount of resources allocated for things likes security guard training are often drastically under budgeted. For contractors, this practice often helps win bids, but often leaves you, the client, with a poorly trained staff. The best way to avoid a problem with under-trained guards is for you and your bidders to develop a mutual understanding that effective training is a good investment for both parties. In order to come to a mutual understanding with your bidders about adequate levels of training, you first need to understand the various components of a security guard training program.
Tip: If you have new officers on site that regularly don’t seem to know your procedures, chances are your contractor’s bid did not include an adequate budget for training.
Types of Security Guard Training
There are 3 types of security guard training that guards are regularly given. These types of trainings are:
- Internal training – Internal training is given to security guards to get them accustomed to the contractor’s policies and procedures. This type of training generally includes topics such as expectations, human resource related topics, pay schedules, disciplinary processes, etc. This type of training is not site specific.
- Certifications – This type of training, like the internal trainings, are not specific to your particular property but is very important. Depending on the guards previous positions, they may have training or certifications in the following areas:
- Basic firefighting
- Advanced first aid
- Firearms qualifications
- Bloodborne pathogens
- On The Job Training (OJT) – OJT provides guards with the preliminary information that they will need to perform their duties at your site. Because OJT is such an important part of a good security guard training program, you as the security manager should consider specifying the number of hours of OJT that each guard should receive. Topics for OJT should include at a minimum:
- Technical equipment (CCTV, alarm panels, phone system, etc.)
- Hazmat (if applicable)
- Emergency procedures
- Rules of conduct
- Facility layout plan
Although I would love to give you a number as to how much OJT is necessary, each site and post will be different. As a rule of thumb, I would look for at least 8 hours of OJT for each new guard. 8 hours of OJT will allow each new security guard to at least shadow another security guard for a full shift before being placed at your location. But again, each site is different so use your best judgement.
Using The Security Manual For Security Guard Training
There will always be challenges in providing comprehensive security guard training to new security guards. But you as a security contract manager can help mitigate some of those challenges by providing a Security Manual for your contractor. At a minimum, the security manual should include a set of written instructions in the form of Post Orders that outline specific duties for each guard for each shift and post. In addition to the post orders the security manual should also include rules and regulations for your facility and any applicable security related directives.
*Click to download sample
Cross-Training for Security Guards
Once security guards are up to speed with the basics, it is easier to progress to a formal system of cross-training. In larger facilities where security guards serve several different functions, cross-training is an essential tool in providing consistent service. In an effective security department, there should always be several guards capable of performing any given task. For posts that require more specialized skills, such as administrative duties, it is critical to have several cross-trained guards to ensure the system continues to works smoothly.
Testing as Part of Security Guard Training
One of the most important components of a security guard training program that is often overlooked is testing. Your security contractor should make available to you, on a regular basis, the training and certification history for each officer working at your facility. This history should include the dates that the training was conducted as well as the scores for all tests that were administered. For a fast and inexpensive way of testing security guards read our post Give Your Guards Post Orders Tests Over The Web For FREE. At a minimum, training for your site should occur when a guard first starts at your facility as well as part of an annual refresher. Testing each officer as part of their initial and refresher training allows you and your security contractor to evaluate any areas that your guards need to be retrained in.
As a whole, comprehensive training programs don’t only create a sense of responsibility among officers, but they also encourage professionalism since officers know exactly what is expected of them while on duty. Both of which make your job easier.
Series: Improving Your Security Guard Service
Article 1: Understanding The Billing Rate For Your Contract Security Force
Article 3: 3 Tools for Managing Your Contract Security Force
Article 4: 6 Helpful Tips To Improve Your Security Guard Service
By Courtney Sparkman
*Source: Stees, J. (1998). Outsourcing security: A guide for contracting services. Woburn: Butterworth-Heinemann