038: Why Do Good Security Guards Quit?


No one needs to be told that guards quitting are a big problem in the security industry. The annual turnover rate is near 100 percent, and for some smaller firms can even hit 300 or 400 percent. The process of replacing employees brings with it expenses such as paperwork, training, and mistakes made by inexperienced security guards. Retaining employees and reducing turnovers is one clear way for companies to improve their service and decrease their costs.

Why Do Guards Quit?

When CareerBuilder surveyed workers from all industries in 2014, 58% said they planned to change jobs that year. If you look at the most common reasons why people want to change jobs, there’s clearly a great deal of applicability to the security industry. 

  • 45% are dissatisfied with their advancement opportunities: This starts with the interview. Get to know the employee, ask them about their career goals, and show them how they can achieve what they want at your company.
  • 39% are dissatisfied with work/life balance: “If you’re working graveyard, it’s very difficult to have a quality family life,” said Johnny on today’s episode. Do your best to meet employee needs with scheduling, and find guards that can handle early morning shifts.
  • 37% had a poor opinion of the boss’ performance: This subject was covered in Episode 32. Guards have to be able to come to you with concerns about supervisors, or they will quit.

 It Starts With You

As Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.” You have to put guards in a position to be successful, and you have to make them feel appreciated and valued. Some guys will always quit because of pay, or because they just weren’t cut out for the work in the first place, but many end up quitting because owners or managers don’t put enough effort into keeping them happy.

If, for instance, you end up giving a guard the same routine, boring job every day, they’re going to quit eventually just so they can do something different. You have to show them that there’s room to grow, room to advance, and an opportunity to fulfill their goals at your company. Good guards quit when you’ve:

  • Failed to unleash their passions
  • Failed to challenge them
  • Failed to engage their creativity
  • Failed to develop their skills 

Other guards simply recognize when their bosses don’t value them. If they get treated like just a number on a spreadsheet, if their opinion isn’t heard, and if the company doesn’t invest in them, they’ll never develop any loyalty and leave the second another offer comes along. Good guards quit when you’ve:

  • Failed to give them a voice
  • Failed to care
  • Failed to lead

 Finally, guards, like anyone else, want their good work to get recognized. Good guards develop relationships with customers, find creative solutions to problems on-site, and go above and beyond their job description. Failing to recognize and reward that work doesn’t just frustrate guards, it shows them that you’re not even paying attention to them. Good guards quit when you’ve: 

  • Failed to recognize their contributions
  • Failed to increase their responsibility
  • Failed to keep your commitments 

That last one is probably the most important. If you don’t keep commitments you’ve made to guards about schedules, pay raises, promotions, etc., then they’re not going to feel any commitment to you. Have a real relationship with your guards, invest in their success, and show them they can trust you to look out for them. Do those things, and more good guards will stick around.

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Chris Anderson

Chris is the founder of Silvertrac Software and has been working in the security industry for more than 25 years. He enjoys working with clients daily to help them grow their businesses and really enjoy what they are doing. Chris currently lives and works in Seal Beach, CA.