Recession creates headaches for security directors

As with most sectors of the economy over the past several years, the security industry has been adversely impacted by the recession, not only in terms of job and budget cuts, but also the increase in the number of challenges that security mangers have to deal with.

These were a few of the topics addressed by Kathy Lavinder of Security & Investigative Placement Consultants in a session entitled, "How the Great Recession Has Changed Security," at ASIS 2010 on Wednesday.

Though the recession may technically be over according to most economists, Lavinder said the economic gains of the market have yet to trickle down to the job market and that the "cavalcade" of bad news has yet to cease. Since the recession began in 2008, more than 8 million jobs have been lost in the U.S. alone, with chief security officers and security directors among them.

Even those security managers that have managed to hold onto their jobs still face the burden of trying to secure their organization's assets with fewer and fewer resources.

"Before the recession, the mantra for security was do more with less," said Lavinder. "Now, the mantra has been to do a lot more with a lot less."

According to Lavinder, in the time since the recession hit, there has been an increase in some of the incidents that security managers are responsible for stopping including fraud, employee misconduct and workplace violence.

Lavinder said it's no surprise that with the weight of an uncertain economy and job market beginning to impact the stress levels of workers that incidents of workplace violence are on the rise. In fact, in 2008, workplace violence accounted for 16 percent of all work-related fatal occupational injuries.

Security directors themselves have also not been immune to the stress of the post-recession economy, as they in many instances have been forced to take pay cuts or work on a contract basis without benefits. In their overzealousness to save money, Lavinder said some companies have even brought in younger, inexperienced workers to take over high-level security positions. A lot of these people are being setup to fail, according to Lavinder, because they don't have the experience necessary to handle the rigors of the job.

Lavinder said this new economy is kind of a "double-edged" sword for younger workers. On one hand, they're attractive to employers because they can be hired on the cheap, but they can also be more easily let go due to their lack of experience.

So, what advice does Lavinder have for security directors in the current economic climate? Be prepared.

"The hammer has not stopped falling in a lot of places," she said. "Have a ready resume."