Robert Bean

Acquiring and retaining good employees is at best difficult. This is true for all areas of a security company whether in the repair department, accounting department or alarm monitoring center. For my company, a 2.8 percent unemployment rate in Hawaii (based on 2005 statistics) has made it even more difficult.

I believe this issue is one of the primary concerns when discussing the challenges of our industry. I don’t believe my company has all the answers, but we have developed a benefits program that helps to stabilize our work force, and make an important impact on employee attrition.

When tied to employee longevity, our benefits program creates a benefits career path. I believe that one of the most important aspects of the program is communication and, therefore, we created a benefits spreadsheet, which is prepared and presented to every new employee.

Over the years, our industry has been evolving from a technological standpoint, and requiring more well-trained and skilled employees. This has increased competition from other similar industry segments for these same employees.

Positions for our monitoring centers and basic alarm installer/technicians could be considered entry-level positions. This creates many opportunities for these individuals as they progress in possibly their first work environment — opportunities that may not be in our industry. Today, one of the struggles I have is that the available workforce has been reduced by lower unemployment rates and the lack of well-trained people.

In my experience, benefits play an important role in retaining employees, and I believe in the need to communicate effectively and consistently with all of our employees.

Our benefits spreadsheet begins by showing each new employee what they will receive from the beginning and what costs they will bear, if any. The employee spreadsheet outlines from day 1 the employee’s salary, work comp, TDI, a membership to Costco and their rights if called to active duty by the military. One of the benefits that I consider very important in helping to retain employees is paid family medical coverage. We pay 50 percent of all costs at five years and 100 percent at 10 years. We encourage employees to show the spreadsheet to their family, which reinforces communication further.

So, what does all this mean? Benefits and communication allow companies to better compete in today’s marketplace of finding and retaining good employees. Communicate to your employees their benefits and rights — and do it consistently. Without communication, we are often left in the dark. Its importance is immeasurable.