Strategies for employee retention in corrections.Institutional corrections in America is an industry that is characterized char·ac·ter·ize
tr.v. character·ized, character·iz·ing, character·iz·es
1. To describe the qualities or peculiarities of: characterized the warden as ruthless.
2. by people. Prisons are built to house people and correctional employees are hired to supervise these people, all for the purpose of keeping people in society safe. Therefore, it is no surprise that the individuals who work in correctional agencies are a vital factor within the organization. Although there are several functional components that are needed to successfully operate any organization, the human element is the most important.
In order to maintain this valuable resource, correctional agencies must be aware of employee satisfaction and retention. Far too often, employees leave the department of corrections for careers with other agencies or departments. Staff retention is arguably ar·gu·a·ble
1. Open to argument: an arguable question, still unresolved.
2. That can be argued plausibly; defensible in argument: three arguable points of law. recognized as one of the most important issues facing corrections today, as the field currently does not have enough quality people equipped with the right skills to meet the demands of the corrections industry.
This study focuses primarily on examining the work environment factors affecting correctional staff within the DOC in one Midwestern state. Its purpose is to analyze current employment practices in corrections, with an emphasis on correctional officers, and how these practices impact recruitment, retention and job satisfaction of correctional employees.
Historically, human resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees. in correctional management focused strictly on maintaining staffing levels rather than concentrating on the root causes of employee turnover and attrition Attrition
The reduction in staff and employees in a company through normal means, such as retirement and resignation. This is natural in any business and industry.
Notes: . For years, there were plenty of correctional jobs and plenty of people to fill them. Many of these people were not satisfied and often discontented dis·con·tent·ed
Restlessly unhappy; malcontent.
discon·tent with their position, but many carried on because moving from one job to another was socially discouraged dis·cour·age
tr.v. dis·cour·aged, dis·cour·ag·ing, dis·cour·ag·es
1. To deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit.
2. To hamper by discouraging; deter.
3. (Herman, 1999). By the turn of the century, organizations were no longer enjoying the luxury of having more people than positions. Even areas such as corrections, which traditionally depended on job security to attract employees, began to show instability. Government cutbacks and lean economic growth provided additional challenges for attracting and keeping competent employees in these areas. Civil services, including corrections, have typically trailed the private sector in making the necessary adjustments to attract a higher caliber of employee.
The cost of recruiting, hiring, training and getting new staff acclimated is immensely more costly than most realize, and this strains most departments' ability to deliver the necessary services and meet their mission. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Bureau of Labor Statistics Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
A research agency of the U.S. Department of Labor; it compiles statistics on hours of work, average hourly earnings, employment and unemployment, consumer prices and many other variables. (BLS See Bureau of Labor Statistics. ), the voluntary turnover rate for state and local government agencies in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. was 7 percent from September 2003 to August 2004 (BLS, 2004). However, the correctional officer turnover rate for many states was 19 percent or more for this same time frame. It would appear that current practices are not enough to maintain an effective work force. Addressing work force stability should be used as a strategic tool to reverse this trend. Although a certain number of employees will seek career changes, keeping valuable employees should be the new focus for employers (Herman, 1999). DOCs must alter their perception in order to become the employer of first choice rather than of last resort.
Pay remains the major contributor to resentment Resentment is an emotion of anger felt as a result of a real or imagined wrong done. Etymologically from "ressentir", French re-, intensive prefix, and sentir "to feel"; from the latin "sentire". The English word has become synonymous with anger and bitterness. and discontent with correctional staff and can be a contributor to turnover. If an organization wants to retain employees, it needs to pay at or above what similar organizations are paying for comparable jobs. Whether an employee will decide to stay or leave based on pay also will depend on his or her satisfaction with other areas.
In a survey of Arkansas correctional employees, pay and benefits were two primary concerns identified in the research. Results indicated that 51.9 percent of respondents In the context of marketing research, a representative sample drawn from a larger population of people from whom information is collected and used to develop or confirm marketing strategy. felt that their current pay and benefits were inadequate and did not meet their needs. Respondents also indicated that 22.5 percent of them would leave if they continued not to receive raises, and 18.1 percent indicated they would leave if another employer offered a higher salary. Additionally, only 10.2 percent felt that their current employment was one in which they could be promoted or from which they could retire (Patendaude, 2001),
Respondents indicated that the removal of step-pay raises, lengthy delays in receiving overtime/compensatory time and lack of annual raises contributed to low group morale. The lack of a financial incentive to remain in corrections increased the problem. The removal of step-pay increases created conditions of inequality inequality, in mathematics, statement that a mathematical expression is less than or greater than some other expression; an inequality is not as specific as an equation, but it does contain information about the expressions involved. where tenured ten·ured
Having tenure: tenured civil servants; tenured faculty.
Adj. 1. tenured employees were punished pun·ish
v. pun·ished, pun·ish·ing, pun·ish·es
1. To subject to a penalty for an offense, sin, or fault.
2. To inflict a penalty for (an offense).
3. for staying with the department. This system allows new employees, upon completion of academy training, to earn the same salary as someone with 10 years of experience, giving the employees the impression that experience and tenure are not important to the department. The cost of benefits also caused resentment. The cost to maintain insurance is constantly raised and negates any raises received (Patendaude, 2001).
The key issue of pay does not relate to the amount of pay but rather to fairness. Employees tend to get frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: about pay because of the inequities they observe, including superior performance reviews having little or no impact on pay increases, no incentive for experience when new employees make the same amount as tenured employees, and higher education not meaning higher pay (Branham, 2005). All of these are strong concerns for DOC employees and are in contrast to what many believe should be necessary for higher pay. If education, performance and experience are not requisites for pay increases, then what is? Pay increases should support employees' commitment.
Pay, however, is only part of the problem. In many instances, concerns regarding job satisfaction, such as the work environment, were found to be a larger contributing factor. This is significant since employees who are not satisfied with their job tend to begin searching for alternatives, which leads to turnover. Job satisfaction has been linked to correctional staff having more positive work attitudes and work ethics ethics, in philosophy, the study and evaluation of human conduct in the light of moral principles. Moral principles may be viewed either as the standard of conduct that individuals have constructed for themselves or as the body of obligations and duties that a . This is important since negative attitudes or performance can hinder hin·der 1
v. hin·dered, hin·der·ing, hin·ders
1. To be or get in the way of.
2. To obstruct or delay the progress of.
v.intr. the correctional organization in meeting its responsibilities and goals. A study in the Kentucky DOC found job satisfaction was inversely correlated cor·re·late
v. cor·re·lat·ed, cor·re·lat·ing, cor·re·lates
1. To put or bring into causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relation.
2. with turnover (Dennis, 1998), both voluntary and actual turnover (Camp, 1994), and it can also affect the number of sick days used by correctional staff (Lambert, Barton and Hogan hogan
Dwelling of the Navajo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico. The hogan is roughly circular and constructed usually of logs, which are stepped in gradually to create a domed roof. , 1999).
There are two primary types of job satisfaction factors. The first involves personal characteristics, which are those things that employees bring with them when they enter the institution. These include education, upbringing, age, gender, race and religion (Lambert, Hogan and Barton, 2002). Research on the effects of personal characteristics of employees on job satisfaction is mixed and not the primary focus of the current study.
The other area associated with job satisfaction is the work environment. Work environment factors include those issues that affect the working conditions for employees. These include organizational structure issues such as decision-making, salary, group cohesion cohesion: see adhesion and cohesion.
The tendency of atoms or molecules to coalesce into extended condensed states. This tendency is practically universal. and promotions (Lincoln and Kallenberg, 1985), as well as job characteristics that are job-specific duties of the employee such as variety, stress, conflict, knowledge and skills (Lambert et al., 2002).
Issues of job autonomy and correctional staff participation in decision-making also have been reviewed in relation to job satisfaction. Most studies found that job aspects, such as job autonomy and ability to use one's skills, were positively related to job satisfaction (Hepburn and Knepper, 1993). Greater participation in decision-making was also associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, and research of jail staff who participate in decision-making showed decreased stress levels (Lindquist and Whitehead, 1986). This finding was also supported in a study of federal correctional staff (Wright et al., 1997).
Further, in a study conducted in correctional facilities in four states, the perception of the ability to influence the institutional structure was positively related to job satisfaction (Hepburn, 1987). When studying decentralization de·cen·tral·ize
v. de·cen·tral·ized, de·cen·tral·iz·ing, de·cen·tral·iz·es
1. To distribute the administrative functions or powers of (a central authority) among several local authorities. of prison management, it was noted that reducing the organizational structure without decentralization of authority had a negative impact. However, delegation of authority The action by which a commander assigns part of his or her authority commensurate with the assigned task to a subordinate commander. While ultimate responsibility cannot be relinquished, delegation of authority carries with it the imposition of a measure of responsibility. led to higher levels of job satisfaction (Farmer, 1994). The majority of correctional research in this area shows a significant relationship between decentralization. decision-making and job satisfaction (Lambert et al., 2002).
Staff supervision and supervisor characteristics also have been areas of much research. Differing types of administrative styles were associated with varying levels of correctional officer stress (Lancefield. Lenning and Thomson, 1997). Grossi, Keil and Vito (1996) found that supervisory support and positive attitudes toward the supervisor were related to correctional staff satisfaction. The quality of supervision and trust in the supervisor also were positively correlated (Britton, 1997), while lack of communication and inconsistency in·con·sis·ten·cy
n. pl. in·con·sis·ten·cies
1. The state or quality of being inconsistent.
2. Something inconsistent: many inconsistencies in your proposal. were found as sources of dissatisfaction (Lambert et al., 2002).
Supervision has a significant effect on both job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Employees look to their supervisors to help them deal with the demands of their job. To employees, supervisors represent the institution, and supervision is not only a component of their job but part of the organizational structure. Employees are less likely to be satisfied with their job and less committed to the organization if supervisors are perceived as failing in their functions. This is particularly true in terms of support and communication with their employees (Poulin, 1994).
In one Arkansas DOC study, one-third to one-half of responding correctional staff indicated that they question the ability of their supervisors. Slightly more than 35 percent of the correctional officers surveyed also indicated that they thought their supervisors were too concerned with enhancing their own career rather than being concerned about the staff. Only 47.5 percent of staff believed that their supervisor promoted teamwork (product, software, tool) Teamwork - A SASD tool from Sterling Software, formerly CADRE Technologies, which supports the Shlaer/Mellor Object-Oriented method and the Yourdon-DeMarco, Hatley-Pirbhai, Constantine and Buhr notations. and almost 62 percent of staff felt that their supervisor did not always treat them fairly. Supervisory contact was also an area of concern. About 50 percent of surveyed correctional officers felt they were inadequately supervised su·per·vise
tr.v. su·per·vised, su·per·vis·ing, su·per·vis·es
To have the charge and direction of; superintend.
[Middle English *supervisen, from Medieval Latin (32.9 percent, too little supervision: 17.9 percent, too much supervision). Nearly two-thirds (60.5 percent) felt that supervisors treated offenders better than staff. Additionally, 61.2 percent of the staff thought that promotional opportunities were based on factors other than merit (Patendaude, 2001). Astonishingly a·ston·ish
tr.v. as·ton·ished, as·ton·ish·ing, as·ton·ish·es
To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. See Synonyms at surprise. , 78.4 percent felt that the DOC is not concerned with the employee's family. Approximately one-fourth of employees (25.3 percent) indicated that the communication of job expectations between themselves and their supervisor is poor, and 58.3 percent believed that they are deliberately not informed of changes pertinent to fulfilling their job requirements (Patendaude, 2001).
Sometimes this information does not get to the right people or the information provided is not significant to the source of the problem. A study conducted by the Saratoga Institute found that even though 95 percent of organizations indicated they conduct exit interviews, only 32 percent reported that data to managers and only 30 percent follow up with some kind of action (Branham, 2005). This is exemplified by the findings of another survey in which 89 percent of supervisors indicated that they believe money is the primary motivator for why employees stay or leave. However, research-based surveys of almost 20,000 employees revealed that 80 percent to 90 percent of employees leave for reasons that are not financial. The reasons given pertain to pertain to
verb relate to, concern, refer to, regard, be part of, belong to, apply to, bear on, befit, be relevant to, be appropriate to, appertain to the job, supervisor, culture or work environment--all internal issues that are within the power of the organization and the supervisor to control and change (Branham, 2005). Based on another study of why employees leave, 70 percent of the reasons are directly related to their immediate supervisors (Branham, 2005). Thus, the immediate supervisor has the most control to correct issues related to voluntary turnover. One survey showed that 50 percent of an employee's job satisfaction is determined by the relationship the employee has with his or her supervisor (Branham, 2000). If supervisors do not find out what the problem is, then they cannot be expected to fix it.
High turnover can create a poor image of the correctional industry since it conveys a negative work environment. Another effect of turnover is that it is usually the most competent employees who resign since they are better qualified to find alternative work (Wright, 1993). This leads to a relatively large number of inexperienced in·ex·pe·ri·ence
1. Lack of experience.
2. Lack of the knowledge gained from experience.
in employees. Such a situation can interfere with communication lines that have been established over time, which can be problematic for correctional administrators who rely heavily on staff to obtain and relay information to avoid problems or incidents (Lambert, 2001).
The Saratoga Institute estimates the average cost of an employee quitting to be the same as his or her annual salary (Branham, 2005). This means that an organization like the DOC (i.e., the one in a Midwestern state), which had 961 correctional officers with an estimated average employee salary of $22,000 resign, potentially lost more than $21 million due to turnover in 2004. These costs include lost productivity and knowledge and recruiting, hiring and training replacements. Even considering only training, which costs approximately $7,525 per person, the department spent approximately $7.2 million a year training new employees. As previously noted, a majority of turnover is due to issues within the control of the organization. If changes were made that allowed the organization to avoid a portion of this turnover, then the savings to the DOC would be tremendous.
Scope. The majority of research concerning correctional staff pertains to personal characteristics, such as race, gender, education and age. However, personal characteristics account for only a 5 percent variance in job satisfaction, whereas work environment factors account for a 27 percent variance (Lambert et al., 1999). In terms of the amount of impact on correctional staff retention, research suggests that factors affecting the work environment have a larger impact than personal characteristics (Lambert et al., 2002).
Although it is important to know how both personal characteristics and work environment factors affect correctional staff and retention, the current study will explore only the work environment factors affecting correctional staff. This was done for two reasons. First, personal characteristics largely cannot be changed. Although these factors are often focused on, it would not be legally acceptable to base employment on personal characteristics. Second, even though these factors do have a role in employee retention, work environment factors have a larger impact (Lambert et al., 2002). Furthermore, this study has the pragmatic goal and purpose of initiating change, and these are factors that can be addressed and changed as opposed to personal characteristics, which cannot.
Procedures. This study is an exploratory study designed to assess the current practices of one Midwestern DOC and to determine the need for establishing retention strategies that target staff working in correctional institutions. The objectives of this study are based on a critical review of current literature and examining internal agency statistics gathered from the DOC. The material was analyzed an·a·lyze
tr.v. an·a·lyzed, an·a·lyz·ing, an·a·lyz·es
1. To examine methodically by separating into parts and studying their interrelations.
2. Chemistry To make a chemical analysis of.
3. to assess the value employees place on work environment and culture, the likelihood of correctional organizations retaining their employees, and retention strategies to reduce employee turnover. Several steps were taken to compile To translate a program written in a high-level programming language into machine language. See compiler. basic information about turnover within the DOC. It began with a comprehensive review and analysis of relevant policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental , annual reports, exit interviews, and other internal documents related to turnover and retention. To begin to determine the root causes for why staff leave and to develop strategies for retention, basic agency data were reviewed, and statistics pertaining per·tain
intr.v. per·tained, per·tain·ing, per·tains
1. To have reference; relate: evidence that pertains to the accident.
2. to employee turnover within the department were obtained.
The purpose of this analysis is not simply to identify what motivates staff to search for alternative employment. Once the causal causal /cau·sal/ (kaw´z'l) pertaining to, involving, or indicating a cause.
relating to or emanating from cause. work environment factors have been defined, then it is necessary to develop potential solutions that can be employed by the DOC to reduce turnover and retention, and are consistent with the identified factor(s).
Analysis of Agency Internal Data
Turnover. In 2004, the DOC's turnover rate was at 19.8 percent, which ranked the organization 35th in the country for retention. Between February 2001 and December 2004, 2,963 correctional officers resigned from the DOC. Years in service prior to resignation could not be tracked for 768 of these positions because of the implementation of a new computer system. Thus, information regarding years in service was available for 2,195 positions. Of these resignations, 630 resigned within the first six months; 338 resigned between seven and 12 months; 410 resigned between their first and second year of service; and 272 resigned between their second and third year of service. Therefore, 968 (44.1 percent) resigned with less than one year of service, and 1,650 (75.2 percent) of correctional officers resigned with less than three years of service.
Local economics. The unemployment rate in the state studied has remained relatively consistent between 2001 and 2004. The majority of regions in the state showed fluctuations of only fractions of a percent up or down. The major metropolitan areas did have an increase in unemployment rates, up to 1.5 percent. As of January 2006, the starting annual salary for a new correctional officer was $23,520. Based on census data from 2000, all but one region had a median wage higher than this starting salary. The median wages ranged from $23,012 to $50,532. The majority of regions were noted as having a median wage of $28,000 to $34,000. Additionally, in the 15 states with an even higher turnover rate, all but two also indicated that the pay for correctional officers was not competitive with local markets.
Reasons for leaving. Information from 534 exit interviews conducted between 2003 and 2004 were reviewed and analyzed. The top three reasons for resignation were higher salary (24 percent), other concerns (19 percent) and other job/career (18 percent). Other reasons noted for resignation were family, health, working conditions, supervision, retirement, work shift/days off, travel distance, investigation/discipline, safety/ security, continued education, leave issues, lack of training opportunity, department/institutional policy, lack of promotional opportunity and conflict.
Based on the responses to exit interview questions, 42 percent of employees left to obtain different careers or a higher salary. However, a majority of the reasons (11 of 18) noted for resigning are employer-based issues, indicating that the DOC has some degree of control over these issues. This oversight or failure to recognize the connection between resignations and controllable issues can be very costly.
Hiring process. It can take up to three months to complete the hiring process, which can present a problem. The steps include processing the application, video testing, pre-employment testing and conducting interviews. Applicants must pass each section to proceed to the next phase. Upon completion, the department is responsible for completing a criminal history check and soliciting references from previous employers.
The effectiveness of the screening process is also an area of concern. Based on the data, 99 percent of all applicants pass the pre-employment physical testing and 90 percent of these applicants passed the pre-employment interview. These requirements are used to ensure that applicants have the attributes necessary to be a correctional officer. If this many pass, then only physically adequate applicants are applying for this position or, more likely, the essential functions test is not adequately screening applicants. The biggest disqualifier is information obtained during the background check.
Plan of Action
The conclusions and recommendations developed as a result of this analysis are not offered in an attempt to diminish current activities as totally ineffective. Although turnover can be nearly as high as 20 percent in some positions, this means that 80 percent of the employees are content enough to remain. What follows is a recommended plan of action that would transform current practices into better practices to increase employee retention and improve the satisfaction of those who have chosen to stay. In order to accomplish any significant change within an organization, it must be recognized that change is a process. A directive cannot simply be given that a change is going to occur. Change should be designed as a series of events that recognize the multiple variables involved.
Supervisory responsibility. In the eyes of the correctional employee, the supervisor is the organization. If the supervisor does not recognize the accomplishments of employees, most will believe the organization does not support them (Nelson, 2003). This is apparent because 10 percent of correctional officers resigned due to working conditions and supervision. Employees want supervisors who do not tolerate favoritism or preferential pref·er·en·tial
1. Of, relating to, or giving advantage or preference: preferential treatment.
2. treatment, who value every employee as an integral member of a greater team, and who are focused on carrying out the mission of the institution in a consistent manner. Employees look to leadership to provide them with more autonomy, giving them the ability to make more decisions and to have more of a say in how the institution is operated.
The management style of corrections must shift; today's employees need flexibility in management, creativity and work structure. They should be encouraged to participate in problem-solving and decision-making. A modification of the paramilitary par·a·mil·i·tar·y
Of, relating to, or being a group of civilians organized in a military fashion, especially to operate in place of or assist regular army troops.
n. pl. command structure will be necessary for employees to reach this level. A management style that allows for communication, problem-solving and decision-making to flow equally up and down the chain of command will be required. Supervisors must be flexible enough to adjust their management style depending on the employee--everyone is not at the same level nor can everyone be satisfied in the same way. Failing to do this makes employees feel that their personal growth is not important or they are not thought of as individuals. To effectively accomplish this, supervisors must have self-assurance in their own abilities and must recognize the employees' worth and performance.
Supervisors have the opportunity and means to create recognition that offers the greatest impact. Research has indicated that a sense of recognition has been a primary motivator for employees. Most supervisors know that their employees would like more recognition but, for various reasons, neglect to provide it (Nelson, 2003). Supervisors tend to focus on what is not being accomplished and often neglect to praise what is being accomplished. Many supervisors and administrators are more concerned with the impact that correctional employees are having on the institution's work environment rather than what effect the institution is having on the employee (Lambert et al., 1999).
Because the average correctional employee changes jobs every few years, supervisors typically feel less of an obligation to provide growth opportunities to their employees than did their predecessors a few decades ago. Ironically, one of the reasons employees leave is to pursue new growth opportunities. According to a study by WorldatWork and Nextera's Sibson Consulting Group, only 68 percent of employees are satisfied with the career opportunities they are provided. Three of the 18 reasons noted for resignation had to do with continued education, lack of training opportunities and lack of promotional opportunities. If supervisors focus more attention on creating new opportunities for their employees, they could reduce turnover and increase inherent recognition (Nelson, 2003).
There is no doubt that tenure and experience are important; however, correctional agencies will have to adapt in order to keep up with the faster paced private sector. The old philosophy of supervisors that new employees "need to get their time in" like they did is no longer practical or accepted by today's work force. This is apparent by the high turnover of new employees, as indicated by the department under study having a 44.1 percent resignation rate of correctional officers with less than one year of service and the 75.2 percent resignation rate of officers with less than three years of service. Why would an employee spend several years "getting their time in" with a correctional agency when advancement potential is much quicker in other fields? In fact, for many positions in institutional corrections, job requirements specifically state that an employee must spend a requisite amount of time in one position before being considered for a promotion.
To help both retention and enthusiasm, correctional supervisors must help employees take on new and different responsibilities, recognizing employees' value to the organization by giving them opportunities to grow and learn. Supervisors should invest time in helping employees develop skills that will move them forward in their careers, even if that particular department will not directly benefit from those skills. The more opportunity for growth that is provided, the greater the agency's reputation will be for developing employees. This will help attract people who particularly value this form of recognition and people who will work hard to make the department successful.
Training. Appropriate training should be developed and required of all supervisory staff concerning employee performance reviews. Training should encompass how to provide both positive and negative feedback. This will allow staff to receive more accolades for positive deeds deed
1. Something that is carried out; an act or action.
2. A usually praiseworthy act; a feat or exploit.
3. Action or performance in general: Deeds, not words, matter most. or assuming additional responsibilities and will train supervisors how to appropriately counsel and redirect re·di·rect
tr.v. re·di·rect·ed, re·di·rect·ing, re·di·rects
To change the direction or course of.
A redirect examination.
re staff in a manner that does not cause conflict or animosity. Annual reviews must be refocused by supervisors to make them a tool for employee growth as they were designed to be. The employee reviews are an ideal time to help employees establish plans for growth and development. These plans should be designed to focus the employee on how to achieve specific goals and how to obtain more responsibility. Additionally, training for first-line supervisors and section heads that encompass subjects such as supervisors as mentors, performance planning and team-building is also necessary.
Training also should be developed for line staff that includes individual development, team-building, communication, problem-solving and decision-making. This will assist them in actively participating in the new management style. This must be supported by supervisory staff as an ongoing attempt to initiate the philosophical change in the culture of correctional staff.
Continued development. Many correctional employees want to grow professionally by learning new knowledge and skills. These employees feel like their education and training can be useful and beneficial to the organization but have a problem with the typical hierarchical style of management, as it leads to many good ideas being stifled sti·fle 1
v. sti·fled, sti·fling, sti·fles
1. To interrupt or cut off (the voice, for example).
2. at the lower level.
The organization should support continued education or specialized spe·cial·ize
v. spe·cial·ized, spe·cial·iz·ing, spe·cial·iz·es
1. To pursue a special activity, occupation, or field of study.
2. training of its employees and develop a culture that encourages and promotes career-building. Correctional agencies should begin by providing financial assistance and flexible schedules for those who choose to continue their education. They also should recognize employees who achieve their goals in higher education. The department under study also found that many of its employees who obtained advanced education soon left the department after meeting their obligations. This was largely due to the lack of recognition continuing education continuing education: see adult education.
or adult education
Any form of learning provided for adults. In the U.S. the University of Wisconsin was the first academic institution to offer such programs (1904). provided. The department offered no incentive to complete a degree or certification program and did not do anything to try to retain these more marketable employees upon completion. If the department is going to invest funds in continuing education, then it should be prepared to make a commitment to those who successfully complete a program. Organizations will have to give up the approach that asks what employees can offer the company and shift to what the company can offer its employees.
Many organizations also have established corporate universities, which is different than a training academy. A corporate university helps employees learn about emerging issues and develop career planning by offering proactive courses rather than reactive training. Many organizations offer certificates or accreditations by completing materials obtained through them. Correctional agencies could obtain these materials and share them with staff or incorporate these materials into current training offered. These associations also can be a good resource for developing career ladders for employees and for obtaining information on making changes in the organization or culture.
Recruitment and image. The policies of the DOC under study concerning recruitment indicate that the organization is dependent on recruiting and hiring the most appropriate personnel to maintain and enhance the department's professional status. This policy identifies two areas that must be focused upon: appropriate personnel and professional status. Each of these factors is dependent on the other. Without the appropriate staff, an agency cannot maintain a professional image, and without a professional image, an agency cannot recruit the appropriate staff. For too long, the department has been more concerned with keeping people coming through the revolving door rather than addressing why so many employees were leaving. When this is done, it can lead to a reduction in the hiring standard and, consequently, the professional image of the department. When 90 percent of all applicants pass the pre-employment testing and interview, the hiring process is screening out less than 10 percent of applicants. This is not to say that many valuable employees were not hired during this time, but merely that this has made it easier for people unsuited unsuited
1. not appropriate for a particular task or situation: a likeable man unsuited to a military career
2. for this type of career to be hired. This is made evident when 18 percent of employees resign to pursue other careers.
To recruit more valuable employees, the perception of recruitment must change. Many staff feel that recruitment should only be handled by recruiters, or they have misconceptions Misconceptions is an American sitcom television series for The WB Network for the 2005-2006 season that never aired. It features Jane Leeves, formerly of Frasier, and French Stewart, formerly of 3rd Rock From the Sun. about recruitment activities. To believe that a handful of recruiters will be able to meet these needs is unreasonable, particularly considering the high turnover. Every employee should be actively involved in recruiting and presenting a positive image of corrections. The department's problem will only continue to compound if employees feel negatively about recruiting and their work environment. It may be beneficial to share what is being planned with line staff or first-line supervisors because line-level support is needed for effective application of any recruitment strategy. Correctional officers also may have many good ideas regarding recruitment plans due to their knowledge of the position, regular contact with potential new recruits and ties to the community where institutions are located.
Compensation. Pay and benefits express an individual's value. If employees are paid less than they are worth and less than what others in similar positions are paid, they will interpret this to mean that they are not important to the organization. Underpaying employees will lead them to feel like they are being taken advantage of and are undervalued Undervalued
A stock or other security that is trading below its true value.
The difficulty is knowing what the "true" value actually is. Analysts will usually recommend an undervalued stock with a strong buy rating. . Common benefits, such as health insurance and vacation time, have an impact similar to pay. In the same regard, people do not think of pay and benefits as recognition but can see their absence as a lack of recognition (Nelson, 2003). With exit interviews indicating that 24 percent of correctional officers resign for higher salaries, compensation is an area of significant concern.
The corrections industry does offer additional benefits--vacation and sick leave, paid holidays, life insurance, and retirement plans--which do not necessarily balance out the low salary, but are underadvertised as benefits immediately offered to new employees. This needs to be better publicized pub·li·cize
tr.v. pub·li·cized, pub·li·ciz·ing, pub·li·ciz·es
To give publicity to.
Adj. 1. publicized - made known; especially made widely known
publicised to potential applicants since many companies require new employees to complete a probationary period before being eligible for these benefits.
Work environment. The work environment that is created is another way that organizations tell their employees that they are valued. Like pay and benefits, it is not so much that employees see these things as recognition; rather, they see a poor work environment as a lack of recognition of their value to the organization. This is evident in that 7 percent of exit interviews indicated that the work environment was their primary reason for resigning. Issues such as insufficient or antiquated equipment not only reflect negatively on the public perception of a department but also on how the employees feel about the department. If this reaches a certain level, some employees may even begin to feel embarrassed about telling people they work for a DOC and simply indicate they work for a state agency.
The DOC under study has a long history of people making a career of corrections. Previous generations felt that loyalty to an organization was expected and believe that younger generations lack that loyalty. However, it is not that their loyalties are lacking, they simply have a different value system. To retain younger employees, the department must determine what is important to them. DOCs can reward younger employees by making performance the primary level for controlling rewards, accelerating the timeliness of rewards and feedback, empowering first-line supervisors through modification of the current management structure, and including them in defining problems and developing creative solutions.
This research should be used to start discussions with correctional officers and to get them more involved in improving institutional operations. Staff are an institution's most valuable resource; they contain untapped potential for new and innovative ideas. Evaluating their concerns and getting them involved in providing input for change and improvement should not only increase efficiency for the institution, but provide a long-term increase in morale, teamwork and involvement in operations.
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New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : American Management Association.
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Farmer, J. 1994. Decentralized de·cen·tral·ize
v. de·cen·tral·ized, de·cen·tral·iz·ing, de·cen·tral·iz·es
1. To distribute the administrative functions or powers of (a central authority) among several local authorities. management in prison: A comprehensive case study. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy. , 20(3): 117-213.
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v. mit·i·gat·ed, mit·i·gat·ing, mit·i·gates
To moderate (a quality or condition) in force or intensity; alleviate. See Synonyms at relieve.
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Ryan Crews, MS, is an assistant superintendent at Western Missouri Correctional Center. Gene Bonham Jr., Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the University of Central Missouri The University of Central Missouri (formerly Central Missouri State University) is a four-year public institution in Warrensburg, Missouri a town of 16,342 in Johnson County, Missouri. .