Keeping security talent on the job

AlliedBarton's learning and development guru Rich Cordivari shares his company's strategy for keeping security professionals engaged and happy in a high turnover industry

As vice president of learning and development for US-based AlliedBarton Security Services, Rich Cordivari is responsible for the training community in the company. That means he oversees 150 trainers who work locally all over the country to deliver education to AlliedBarton employees. Cordivari, who has been with the company since 2003, discusses his strategy for boosting retention rates with programs that speak to the company's diverse geographic accounts, as well as the different generations now working for AlliedBarton.

Security positions have always been demanding. But it seems the stakes are higher than ever lately when it comes to risk. Has the burnout factor among staff increased because of this intensity? Or do more security professionals stay on the job longer because they feel they are doing something meaningful?

The stakes are higher, definitely. And I think the burn out occurs when you are in an important job and at a site with high sense of security urgency but you aren't getting tools and support you need. It happens when you're in a job that's no win and getting no support. I think with all of the training and tools we offer that we fortunately don't fall into that category.

What are you doing that you believe is different to keep employees in the company?

I think the key word when you are talking about getting people to stay is whole idea of engagement. Training is just one thing. Training is showing folks things they need for today. Learning and development is giving them tools they need for future.

Talk specifically about some of the learning and development programs at AlliedBarton.

Within last 18 months we held what we called management boot camp. Over the course of two weeks, we had 150 managers come through a very intensive training program with a lot of coursework upfront. They had all gone through different online training programs before they arrived. The on-site was a different type of training program than anything we had done before. It wasn't week of "Death by Power Point." It was highly interactive and I'd also say high pressure.

What did attendees do during the boot camp?

We worked with The Center for Talent Retention in Denver. In addition to workshops, they helped us develop tools so we could have one-on-one conversations with everyone at the management level on how we could help them grow in their careers. I found it very personally beneficial not only for my relationship with my boss, but also for my relationship with the people who work with me.

Have you seen any results that indicate the sessions made a difference?

Our account manager retention went up 11 percent following boot camp. And that means our client retention goes up, too. That has an ROI that's in the millions. So, it's good for the organization all around. Not just for the bottom line, but for people as well.

In addition to workshops like the one you just mentioned, do you offer anything ongoing for employees?

We have a mentor program called SAIL, which stands for security academy in leadership. It's about linking folks up with those who can help them grow in their career. It's been successful in fostering relationships among with folks who want to grow with those with knowledge skills they can draw from to reach the next level. We also offer online courses employees can access anytime.

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