What does the future of guarding look like in Canada?
The security guard industry is being transformed in so many ways and there’s lots of interesting change still ahead, reports Gary Del Bianco, who is the Senior Vice-President of Corporate Development for Regal Security Inc.
Del Bianco recently took part in a roundtable discussion hosted by Canadian Security Magazine (CSM), where he had the opportunity to address major issues impacting the security industry . The exclusive roundtable event also included participants from three other major security providers.
The roundtable was featured in a recent issue of CSM, and the story received lots of positive response from industry players. The event allowed Del Bianco and the panel to discuss important industry topics, which involved wages, training, recruitment, branding, social media, and new technologies.
The security guard industry: recruitment and hiring
The first topic of discussion focused on the challenges around recruitment and hiring.
“From our perspective for recruitment and hiring, when we look at our metrics let’s say from a couple of years ago, what we find is we’re having to process more applications and interview more people in order to recruit per guard.” explained Del Bianco.
“Certainly the increase in minimum wage had an impact on that. But I think there are other factors as well. The workforce is changing… the qualification of the guard coming into the business has been impacted as well. We’re having to work that much harder to get the qualified staff to meet the criteria that our clients expect … From a retention point of view, for us, I think what’s important is you hire the right guard for the right site. Matching criteria is important. You have to supervise and manage those guards effectively and you also have to support them in terms of ensuring that there’s an opportunity for growth for them in the future … And educating them to that fact.”
He added, “Most of our management team started in the industry as a guard and they’ve advanced since. I don’t think there’s enough knowledge of the fact that there are many, many opportunities in our industry, rather than using this as simply a stepping-stone to another industry. It’s important that we educate and support. It all contributes to better retention.”
“I would have to agree that in today’s environment, we have to use multiple sources for recruiting. For us, online brings in masses of applications, but what results in a higher percentage of final recruits is referrals and word of mouth plus the job fairs. That’s what’s more productive,” said Del Bianco.
Minimum wage changes and it impact on the security industry
A big topic at the roundtable was the 2018 increase in minimum wage (to $14 an hour in Ontario) and how its’ changing the industry.
Del Bianco told the panel that back in 2017, his company started discussions with their client base very early on around mid-year. However, legislation wasn’t completely passed until late in 2017 and everyone had slightly over one month to get it agreed by clients and implemented.
“Certainly there was opposition initially, but understanding contract language, understanding legislation, all helped in that conversation. We took a model of fairness in terms of passing those costs along,” he said.
He further explained, “We didn’t achieve the same delta, going from (old) minimum to the new minimum, but we achieved somewhere close to that with pretty much our entire client base. It took a lot of discussion, a lot of education, a lot of back and forth conversation before those things happened. I agree as well, that the expectation for that same delta doesn’t exist and it’s going to take some time. It’s a continual discussion on that front. We see it on an ongoing basis, even in tenders. You look at the expectations, perhaps the SLAs (service level agreements) that come with it and you think, we have to have a separate (pricing) option, we have to have another discussion on it.”
New technology in the guarding industry
New technology was also a hot topic for participants.
Del Bianco indicated that Regal Security Inc. is seeing an increased need for enhanced security, and that technology will be widely utilized.
“Enhanced security is provided by a combination of services. In some areas that are lower risk, perhaps technology can do it alone. But in our local market, for example, we find that we need feet on the ground as well as the technology. A lot of people are talking about the ‘Big Brother’ look of things,” he said. “We’ve all seen on the news just recently; Ontario has provided another $3-million to the City of Toronto to combat gangs and guns. As that trend continues, and as the trend for global terrorism and terrorism locally grows, the need for additional and more sophisticated technology, and additional dollars for more security overall is going to be the answer.”
So, will new technology replace real humans?
“I don’t think that technology is in any way replacing security guards. I think it is enhancing an overall security program.”
– said Del Bianco.
“You can’t use a traditional model necessarily anymore. Anywhere from a commercial building to a logistics house to even residential condos. There are all kinds of (unwanted) things happening in these sites now. The concierge role is not what it used to be even five or 10 years ago. It’s totally changed.” We are now even more accountable to our clients to provide a certain level of service,” he said.
“The drugs, the gangs, the violence … and mental illness is on the rise. Just dealing with those situations in a very delicate manner before they escalate to something else – those are all key,” said Del Bianco.
More change ahead for the security guard industry
Del Bianco also had the chance to talk about how his firm, like others across Canada, are offering a combination of services, like monitoring, technology, integration services, and how the industry will continue to shift in this direction. He also spoke at length on how guards are more professional and now require formal and ongoing training and how this is helping rebrand the industry as a whole on the professionalism front. Also, social media is having an impact on many levels when it comes to branding, hiring and recruitment.
Read more in Canadian Security Magazine and Visits Regal Security Inc.
To read the full story, visit CSM online. If you are looking for a career in the security guard industry, or are in need of hiring a security firm, visit Regal Security Inc. today and secure your business!