As I set out to write about the struggle to find good licensed security officers across the UK – a struggle being experienced by virtually every security company I come across – Amazon has just launched their £3,000 sign-on-bonus incentive as an answer to their own staff shortages, which demonstrates what we are up against.
I appreciate there will be many who don’t accept, or even understand, that security businesses are “fishing in the same pond” as warehouse/delivery businesses, but how can we not be? I know that there are more barriers to entry faced by security officers – namely six days training, a £200 license, and some not insignificant vetting challenges, with all the waiting times in-between – but when it comes to paying the bills, there is direct competition between any business paying similar wages. I see all the work that is going in to make security a more recognisable career, but again Amazon has a graduate scheme, and a management scheme etc etc. (this isn’t a personal vendetta against Amazon by the way – they are just very easy to point at – I could as easily use Hermes, Yodel, Uber, Deliveroo…)
This isn’t going to be another piece about low pay in the industry; there are many articles by plenty of people that have more industry expertise than me laying out the challenges here.
But, the sector (including Orka) has to react to the increasing gap in the market; between supply and demand (in our case, supply being the officers on the portal looking for work, and demand being the requirement of officers from our clients – security companies).
Orka has for almost three years now supplemented security teams with additional labour up and down the country. It has never been easy to balance the supply and demand (no one remembers the officers that turn up and do the job, only the ones that don’t turn up – even if that is 1%, as in our case). But it is so much harder now – a mix of Brexit and the pandemic has displaced so much of the licensed workforce to jobs that are arguably easier, more flexible, have more sociable hours and dare I say, pay more.
Now I believe that a licensed security officer is a better job, with more credibility, and more opportunity than a warehouse/courier job, but we now have to prove that to those that have had to find opportunity during the last two years. Orka Works is consistently creating new offerings to entice security officers on to the app, and in some cases in to the industry – from early wage access, to loyalty bonuses (not £3k unfortunately), to quite literally “pick you own hours” schedules… Yet our fulfilment rate has still been affected.
So what next?
We have, at least we believe we have, started to see the rate at which the “shifts added to the platform” convert to a “shift worked” hit a plateau – at around 78% – it was once at the heady heights of 91%. We hope that this downward curve is over so we can continue with the good work that we were (and are) doing – bringing real flexibility to security work, in a way that one security company can’t do alone – Orka Works is the way a worker gets the same level of flexibility of working at Deliveroo or Uber, but within the industry they love and with a job they can be proud of. That’s what we believe will win us the officers back – and we have to go big on it. We are empowering the officer, ready to compete with those other industries, deciding who, what and where they want to work.
We are making it our job to shout from the rooftops and regroup the displaced workforce – they can have all the perks of these other industries and be a security officer.
Fancy finding out more? Book a portal demo here.