Unlike many other industries, security does not come to a stop when Christmas arrives. This calls for careful preparation from our Critical Control Helpdesk (CCHD) and People & Culture team. Planning annual leave and covering shifts becomes difficult when the demand for manned guarding rises, and most Security Officers want the time away from work with their families. During winter months there is also increased illness, and a larger temptation for workers to not attend a planned shift, making this planning critical for businesses and their security teams.
Understanding client requirements
Over Christmas, many businesses have increased or more complex security needs. The impacts of Christmas festivities and the darker nights can often lead to higher rates of theft and violence, raising demand for business protection. Additionally, businesses face the risk of opportunists committing crime whilst they are closed on Christmas Day. Many stores are targeted at this time of year as they have expensive items in ready for Boxing Day Sales.
Before planning, we arrange meetings with our clients from the beginning of November to confirm the resources they require and whether they need additional cover. We’ll consult them to assess their risk and see if it can be effectively managed with technology like CCTV, or a Mobile Command Unit (MCU), before turning to put more officers on the ground.
Workforce and resource audit
Once we know what our client’s requirements are, we ask employees for their preferences for working over Christmas. Many of our officers do not celebrate Christmas or would instead prefer to take advantage of working at increased pay rates.
This initial assessment helps us to determine cover across the country, where labour gaps are and what recruitment may be needed, helping all clients to have the level of protection and resilience they need over the festive season. Not only do we have to assess the number of Security Officers, but we also review our other resources which may be needed for this seasonal work; such as uniforms, security vehicles, PPE, or welfare facilities.
Planning, scheduling, and training
We start planning Christmas annual leave early, asking all officers for their requests from September. All time off is approved by line managers and is on a first-come, first-serve basis, with a holiday cap to ensure everyone is treated fairly. As a company rule, we cannot guarantee any holiday requests between December 15th and January 5th.
As the shifts on Christmas Day are paid at higher rates, we find many officers volunteering to do these. Our CCHD scheduling team carefully ensure our security officers are able to make the most of these higher earning opportunities, without risking burnout or fatigue problems from overworking. We lock in shifts with officers in advance so our clients are aware of who is working on their sites over the festive season.
Sometimes due to the scheduling pattern, officers could be new to a site and require site-specific training, which we arrange well in advance. This is important to ensure any site procedures are followed and any employees are kept safe at work.
When planning and scheduling shifts around Christmas, there’s always a chance of staff not showing up for work. This can be down to many reasons such as Covid or seasonal illness, people not being granted time off, hangovers, adverse weather, or other temptations. To give our clients resilience, we create dedicated bench teams who are on standby to cover any unplanned absences or emergency ad-hoc reactive work. This prevents our client’s businesses from being left vulnerable due to insufficient staffing.
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