By Paul Howe, MD Venture Security
I read with interest the findings of a study by the University of Portsmouth, which examined the mental health of security officers and how well security providers are looking out for their staff.
The researchers interviewed 750 workers in the UK. They found 40% of the security officers were exhibiting signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as a result of being exposed to frequent episodes of verbal and physical abuse. A particular trend being noticed amongst those in roles that involve contact with the general public.
Another key finding of the study was an apparent lack of provision by security companies, to recognise and support employees with issues of mental health and wellbeing.
Recognising the value
As someone who has worked in the security industry for more than 20 years now, I know first-hand, it is not an easy job. Most security roles present their own unique challenges and looking after both mental and physical health is vital.
There are an estimated 350,000 licensed security guards working in the UK right now, who are busy patrolling public streets, guarding venues and events, and looking after public and private sector premises. Sadly, the important role these security officers are fulfilling – and the value they are providing – is often overlooked.
At Venture, the physical and mental wellbeing of all our employees is something we take very seriously. In light of the study, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the many ways we are supporting our team members.
We believe that providing the highest quality of service comes down to the quality of the people we employ. We firstly spend a lot of time ensuring we hire individuals who are going to be a great fit for the culture of the organisation. We then invest in their professional development, through ongoing training and support designed to help each individual achieve their long-term goals. Mental health first aid training is something we also provide for those officers who may need to deal with challenging individuals as part of their role.
Our employee benefits scheme is free to access for all officers who join us. It delivers benefits ranging from local offers and discounts, to medical care, advice and support. For example, there is the opportunity to consult with a qualified GP and expert counsellors 24/7. There is also a bank of advice available on healthy lifestyles and mental health, as well as access to special rates for gyms and leisure centres.
Venture is proud to be accredited as a living wage employer by the Living Wage Foundation. This means we have committed to paying all our permanent employees at least the minimum hourly rate of pay, as calculated by the foundation. We also pay correctly and on time, which is something we are told doesn’t always happen at other security companies.
One of the challenges of working in security is the need to work alone and during unsocial hours. For example, our mobile patrol officers work throughout the night. We recognise this type of role can put extra pressure on people, who may be juggling homelife and a social life alongside this. We do everything we can to support them and to make sure they feel part of the team. Importantly, they always have backup whenever they need it, with someone at the end of the phone at all times, night and day.
The TUPE process and the impact this might have on security officers, is something we know many of our customers are particularly concerned about. When we take on new officers, they go through a comprehensive onboarding process that introduces them to the company, our culture and how we work. We also take the time to listen and find out what their individual aims and aspirations are. The feedback we continue to receive from officers going through the process is overwhelmingly positive.
We invest a lot in ensuring all our security officers have the uniform and any special equipment they need, to carry out their role to the best of their ability. This may include body-worn cameras and stab vests and also uniform suitable for facing all the elements. We also have stringent safety procedures in place to protect our officers, including trackers and a check-in process, so we always know where they are and will be alerted to any potential issues. PPE and additional training has also been available to everyone who has needed it, during the pandemic.
Venture currently works with public and private sector organisations based across central southern England, including Andover, Salisbury, Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton and Fareham.
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