Recruiting and retaining good employees is key to running an effective police agency. The success of a police agency’s recruiting department impacts every other department agency function.
For years, many police agencies across the nation saw a steady influx of new officers year after year. However, in recent years this number has declined, along with police retention numbers. As a result, thousands of police agencies across the nation are struggling with chronic challenges related to police retention and are facing a police recruitment crisis.
This article will explore six tips and suggestions on how police agencies across the nation can improve their recruiting and retention strategies within their police department.
1. Provide opportunities for career advancement
Police officers should have opportunities for advancement within their departments. This can include promotions to leadership positions, opportunities for specialized training and recognition for excellent performance.
This being said, it’s important for your police agency to consider offering dual career ladder opportunities. In the past, most traditional police agencies only offered career advancement through supervisor positions. In smaller police agencies or in the sheriff’s department, this advancement is only possible if someone else leaves the agency. Additionally, not everyone is interested in taking on a leadership position. Policing has changed in the past decade, and not every officer has the attributes it takes to become a supervisor.
To address the police officer shortage due to a lack of career advancement, many police departments are developing alternative career opportunities within their agency as a reward for increased training and experience. These positions can include rank designations, such as Constable, Inspector I, Inspector II, or Officer I, Officer II, Intermediate Officer, and more.
Make sure to highlight different career advancement opportunities when you’re recruiting police officers. This is a great way to attract potential talent to your department by ensuring your department provides growth and development.
2. Provide competitive compensation and benefits
Recruiting police officers will be difficult if you don’t provide competitive compensation and benefits. Police officers should receive fair and competitive compensation and benefits, including salaries, retirement plans, health insurance and paid time off. Offering performance-based bonuses and other incentives can also help retain officers. If your police agency isn’t offering competitive compensation and benefits, you may see both your recruitment and retention numbers decrease.
If possible, consider offering signing and retention bonuses, as well as stipends for specialized training mentorship. Supporting your police officers financially is a top strategy for recruitment and retention.
3. Foster a positive work environment
Police departments should create a supportive and positive work environment, which can help to reduce stress and increase job satisfaction. This can be achieved through regular communication and feedback, recognition and appreciation for a job well done, and opportunities for teamwork and collaboration.
Have your department leaders sit down with your officers and listen to what they have to say. Ask them questions, listen and address their concerns. Find out what may make them happier in their jobs, and what your leadership team can do to ensure they feel fulfilled at work. Do other departments offer better benefits? Are your police officers feeling fatigued and overworked? One of the best ways to reduce police shortage and turnover is by ensuring your officers feel heard and listened to.
4. Provide wellness tools and resources for your officers and employees
Law enforcement officers face high levels of stress and are at increased risk of developing mental health issues such as PTSD. Providing resources such as counseling and mental health support can help to reduce the risk of burnout and turnover.
If you’re noticing a police officer shortage due to wellness reasons, look for wellness systems that will provide your police officers with tools for them to plan their lives and be happy. Some scheduling systems, such as InTime, also have wellness systems that are fully integrated into the automated scheduling system. Not only does InTime Wellness have customizable built-in alerts that flag when an officer is being overworked, but it also provides your police officers with wellness resources that are available 24/7. InTime Wellness takes a proactive approach to address some of the difficulties that come with working in the public safety industry, and its purpose is to provide your police officers with support so they can plan their lives and stay happy. Keeping your officers happy and healthy is the number one way to increase police retention within your department.
5. Practice community policing
Last but certainly not least, one of the best reasons to utilize a software system that combines police scheduling with timekeeping is to save money. A combined system will drastically reduce the amount of time spent on payroll and fixing timesheet errors, effectively saving your organization on labor costs. It will also give you a clear picture of where your resources are going and will enable you to seamlessly track how much overtime your employees are working.
6. Provide ongoing training and development
Providing ongoing training and professional development opportunities can help officers to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in policing. This can help to increase job satisfaction, improve police retention and make your officers feel like they’re at the top of their game.
Make sure you highlight your police department’s training program during your recruitment process. Nobody will join a department where they suspect they may feel stuck and stagnant down the road. While you’re recruiting police officers, highlight all the different training opportunities your department provides and the benefits of taking part in your training and development programs.
The bottom line
Police departments across the nation can address the police officer shortage by implementing these recruiting and retention strategies. Make sure to encourage your police leadership to take a fresh look at operational strategies, and invest in wellness programs and tools so your police officers can plan their lives and be happy. Contact our team today to learn more about how InTime Wellness can help you recruit and retain police officers.