The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a dynamic shift to the way we function and operate in the working ecosystem. Sectors across are slowly in the process of evolving and acclimatising to the new normal, with a unique dash of online, offline and hybrid model in place. One such sector that has been working tirelessly during the pandemic and thereafter, was the security sector. Security guards are often the eyes and ears, first responders, and recipients of acts of violence or safety. Now, they have the added responsibility to implement COVID protocol to ensure the safety of a sizable number of people they deal with on an everyday basis. This puts a lot of pressure on their day-to-day job.
It is time we recognise these often invisible and unsung heroes for their fortitude and be there to support them unconditionally, with new age scientific tools and techniques amalgamated with a hands on approach, as and when needed. Apart from physical agility, mental health and emotional well-being is definitely gaining much needed traction and importance. The approach now is more comprehensive rather than fragmented. Security companies who hire security guards on a large scale across the country must be pre-emptive in their approach. As a part of training protocols, processes that strengthen the mental agility and well-being of people across strata, geography and responsibilities, both on the field and in the back office are much needed.
Specially designed mindfulness modules as part of initiations for those deployed at remote or vacant premises is a critical strategy. Such measures are collaborative in nature and are customised as per the ground reality, situation and feedback.
Some of the key processes that have taken significant precedence during the post pandemic era are and can be implemented for the benefit of security personnel are:
- A COVID-19 helpdesk to provide support to individuals directly affected by the pandemic. This helpdesk offers physical and mental health guidance in real time.
- Appointment of Operations Managers to take charge of the health and safety of security staff. They should visit client sites, meet the security personnel deployed, and address their concerns on an ongoing basis.
- Frequent online training sessions conducted for employees aimed at tackling challenges such as COVID-19 anxiety, low motivation, and offering tips and techniques to boost confidence through yoga and physical exercises. The aim is to keep the channel of communication open for them to freely express their concerns in a space which addresses their concerns with sensitivity.
- To ensure that the workforce is physically and mentally fit; training and physical exercises could be included in the working regime during duty hours.This includes warming up exercises, strengthening exercises, breathing exercises, road running, walking, yoga and group activities conducted at client sites in a planned manner.
- Working hours for security personnel must also be regularised and monitored with essential breaks during shifts.
The security industry is known to hire one of the largest manpower across all sectors. Along with this comes the challenge and commitment we must make to employees for their mental and emotional well-being. While this is being imbibed across most corporate sectors, we need to take it down to the grassroot level as is the case in the security personnel industry and ensure such solutions and tools are accessible to all. We need to make mental wellness more accessible and address the on-ground concerns in real time.
I truly believe that treating all employees with sensitivity and seeing them as individuals can be a great energiser at work. Policies should be inclusive of all facets – physical, mental, moral, ethical and emotional. This well rounded approach based on insights and feedback ensures the success and sustainability of the ever evolving relevant solutions. A healthy organisation starts with healthy employees; and as the security industry works tirelessly for the safety of others, we are tirelessly working towards securing a healthy future for them as well.