• United States



by Senior Editor

Keeping Security Talent On The Job

Sep 16, 20085 mins
CareersIT Leadership

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 Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-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?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.

We worked with

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.

What about course content? Has the content of the training changed in recent years?

Course content is always being updated to reflect anything new in the industry. For instance, in order to get and keep a safety certification from the Department of Homeland Security. DHS prescribes a very particular course of study that has high standards. We had to incorporate those standards at a formalized level, even though we already had eight terrorism and emergency response programs. We had to actually repackage them so that they met DHS standard. That allows us raise our game a bit. We are proud not only that we did it, but also that through a recent audit we could prove every single employee was compliant with what DHS requires.

Have you made any changes to content that addresses the way people learn?

The best example that I can give is KnowledgeKnuggets, which is a series of MP3 pieces designed to encourage and reinforce learning. The feedback has been terrific with more than 2,500 downloads in the first six months of introduction.In addition to that, we have made more of our courses shorter so that manuals and guides are more easily digestible and broken out by topic, etc.

What specific areas or accounts have needed more changes or attention recently?college or university setting.

Our port accounts, our petroleum and chemical accounts. Those are probably the most dynamic part of industry right now, in addition to college campuses. Anyone who has read a newspaper in the last ten years knows the need for training and retraining security professionals in a

What other new initiatives are in place now when it comes to development and training?

Another thing we are doing is making sure our delivery methods are significant. Our new learning management system makes training as on-demand as possible. We know folks want information when they want it and should not have to wait for me to hold a class to get it. So we are in process of turning all of our current courseware into self-paced, self- run, on-demand, online format. It encourages learning and gives you what you need, when you need it.