The workforce is changing… are you?

Thoughts from Select Security’s President

Steve Firestone, Select Security President

Steve Firestone, Select Security President


Easily distracted.

Poor work ethic.

If you’re around my age or consider yourself a part of Generation X or the Baby Boomers, surveys show this is how you might describe millennials, or the age group born between 1982 and 1993. Some of you may agree with the surveys, while others might have different perceptions. But that’s all it is – a perception. What one generation considers entitled, another considers a high sense of self-worth. What one considers easily distracted, another considers creative, and so on. Regardless of if you perceive the millennial generation as negative or positive, they will make up 75% of the global workforce in the next ten years.

In my previous blog post, I alluded that the security industry of yesterday is not the security industry of tomorrow. We can apply this same logic to the workforce. The workforce of yesterday will surely not be the workforce of tomorrow, thanks in part to millennials. This year, I’ve had the pleasure of being a speaker with two of my close colleagues at a couple of industry events: the ESA 2015 Leadership Summit and the California Alarm Association (CAA) Convention. The topic of our discussion at both events was titled “What’s keeping you up at night… and if it’s not, it should.” One of the things that should be keeping leadership awake at night is the security industry is undergoing a transition, and all dealers need to use a critical eye in evaluating their employees relative to the changing landscape.

Dan Schawbel, founder of and a fellow ESA Leadership Summit presenter, has similar views on building the workforce of tomorrow and how it specifically relates to millennials. What are millennials looking for in the workplace, and as security companies, how are we aligning with them? After listening to Dan’s presentation, it’s best to conclude that social recruiting, flexibility, intrapreneurship, community, internal career opportunities, real-time feedback, mentoring, and transparency top their list. And if you think they’re asking too much, you’re wrong. These are all great programs and initiatives we need to start incorporating to attract these individuals to our industry.

In order to drive this industry forward, we need people who have entrepreneurial skills to continue to expand our security and life safety product offerings and create better systems and processes within the workplace. One way to do this is to encourage employees to challenge the status quo. Employees in a customer-facing position may have a better perspective on what works well and what is best for the customer, than maybe the owner of a company. It’s our job as leaders to encourage these employees to push for industry change and new ideas. In turn, we are creating a better experience for our employees and the customer. And this shouldn’t just be an initiative for larger companies. Smaller companies should have the same aspirations, and may even have an advantage because of their close customer relationships.

Next week, I get to channel my inner Mark Cuban and experience industry change through innovation first-hand, as a judge for ESX’s TechVision Challenge. The challenge will bring together the ten companies who were category winners in the ESX 2015 Innovation Awards and give them the opportunity to present their product or service behind closed doors before a panel of ESX “industry sharks.” As judges, we will challenge the participants to prove why their new product or service is deserving of the title, Best of Show. The participants’ industry products and services were chosen for their innovative technology, design, or application.

Challenges like this get me excited about the future of the security systems and alarm industry. It’s time to leave the entitled, easily distracted, and poor work ethic stereotypes behind and embrace the innovative, driven, and creative individuals we have to drive us forward.

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