TO MR Paul Lim, replacing human beings with robots and cameras is not the route to higher productivity in the security sector.

The chief executive of Soverus has instead worked to raise 'psychological productivity' among his guards by keeping their morale up.

The firm pays its guards between $1,750 and $2,400 a month - above the industry average of about $1,600.

It also offers bursaries to employees’ children, and provides guards with employment benefits such as mobile-phone plan discounts.

Investments in 'psychological productivity' have not come cheap - the firm had been making losses since 2010 and broke even for the first time this quarter. However, Mr Lim is certain his efforts have paid off.

'I believe that once we have sorted out the livelihoods of our security officers, the rest will sort itself out,' he said.

Clients have seen the difference and are willing to pay more for the firm’s services - Soverus’ rates are among the top 10 per cent in the industry.

Each time a client extends a contract, the firm’s asking price goes up by 25 per cent.

'When people keep using our services, it shows that our officers are good... and our infrastructure supports our clients,' Mr Lim said.

He spent 19 years in the police force before leaving to head Soverus two years ago.

In that time, the firm went from being a one-man operation to its present size of 260.

While the company has made some investments in technology to improve productivity - such as installing closed-circuit TV cameras in areas that do not have to be constantly patrolled - Mr Lim believes there is only so much machines can do.

'This is a labour-intensive, human interface industry - there is limited scope for automation to help productivity,' he said.

In the long term, Mr Lim's goal is to raise the profile of the industry. 'I want security officers to be paid what they deserve... and to be treated with a lot more respect,' he said.