On Guard

Have you heard of a company being grilled before it could even deliver then continue to undergo a scolding long after the project has finished?  Well, maybe a few.  But what makes this case an odd one is that it happened to the world’s largest private security company with more than 650,000 staff worldwide – G4S.

What happened?

Security at the Olympic park entrance.

G4S was contracted for £284M by the U.K. government to provide security during the 2012 London Olympics.  However, Nick Buckles, G4S’ CEO would then be summoned after the government learned that G4S could only deliver around 7,000 out of the 10,400 guards it was contracted to supply for the Games.  This then forced the government to patch the deficiency with soldiers and police.  And now, the case has led to the resignation of two G4S’ directors.

Obviously, this shortage of staff was the result of G4S’ failure to fully discern the scale and exact nature of the project.  Yet still, G4S is in an even stickier spot for trying to collect a £57M management fee.  All these signal it’s time for fine-tuning.

What could have been done, and now should be done in the future?

Workforce Availability

First, G4S has been in this business a long time and has grown to be the biggest security provider in the world that “recruitment” may now have been overlooked.

Yes, hordes of applicants flock to G4S but yet in this case, they “ended up not seeing each other”.  Talk about 2 years of preparation.  More so, the question of monitoring and tracking should not seem like “stalking” as it’s illegal and recruits got their own lives to live too.

See, if you do not give these recruits a “regular” job but have them wait for a time – you would not really be able to see them whenever, or know where they are or what they do.


To be able to fully address workforce availability, we have to fix the recruitment “process” beforehand; after all, they are the assets.

  • Have application screenings all year round including background, physical, and psychological checks.  Do this on a quarterly basis – every first week of January, April, July, and October.
  • Have a clause in the recruitment contract that states if G4S does not call within 30 days – the recruit was placed on active file.  One might say that this is unnecessary as it’s understandable.  Well, true but then, it’s needed to emphasize that G4S really means business since it’s screening all year round.
  • For big projects such as the Olympics, set-up “additional” recruitment centers in counties (with a high population of 18-45 year olds) – at least 6 months before the Games with consideration to training depth and length among others.
  • Issue recruitment contracts right after passing the whole recruitment process, however, stating that it would take effect a month before the project begins and last for its duration.
  • Require recruits to check-in to G4S’ working website once a month to ascertain one’s status among others.  Otherwise, if they miss out, G4S would follow-up within a week.
  • Formalize recruitment contracts and brief recruits at least one month before the start of events; and deploy Olympic guards at least 15 days before it begins.  Too close?  Go figure.

Security Assessment

The Olympic mission is to render a safe and secure Games not only for the athletes, officials, and audience but for the Games’ properties and equipments as well.  So now, let’s really determine the following:

  • GAMES – How many venues?  Size including open areas, and entry and exit points?  Venue regulations?  People allowed to the venues including vendors and those in-charge of securing the venue?  Daily start and end of events?  Proximity of G4S accommodation to assigned venues?  Number of security shifts and personnel assigned per venue?  Counter plan aside from army and police assistance?
  • ATHLETES & OFFICIALS – Location of sleeping quarters aside from the Olympic village?  Team rules?  Curfew?  Movements as to shopping malls, tourist spots, banks, etc.?
  • AUDIENCE – Location of parking areas and Olympic ticketing booths?  Commuting areas and accessibility?  Snack or food, and lavatory areas?
  • PROPERTIES & EQUIPMENTS – Location of Games’ equipments and vehicles among others?  Authorized keeper?  Day and time used and returned?

£57M Management Fee

Follow the contract.  The fee can only be waived if there’s a contract clause stating that “any” sort of failure would constitute waiving.  That’s practicality but not a good omen as well.  Now, if the clause states that G4S would be paid according to the level it delivers, then just pay 83% of the contract amount as even claimed by G4S it serviced.  Otherwise, pay in full; after all, G4S agreed to compensate everybody who helped out on its duties.

To both sides – On Guard!

What’s your take?