Low morale among members of any workforce can negatively affect productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency. In law enforcement, where the safety of officers and the public is paramount, low morale can impact your agency in various ways from productivity to retention to unprofessional conduct.
Law enforcement has seen steady declines in morale and retention over these past few years for a variety of reasons. There are often a number of internal and external factors influencing the disposition at an agency. Negative media coverage, poor perception by a community, or increased regulations could affect enthusiasm and satisfaction. While internally, morale can be impacted by leadership, staffing levels, a lack of siloed technology, along with many other factors.
Low morale may affect retention through higher resignations and retirements compounded by lower recruitment with fewer new candidates in the hiring pool to replace them. Improving police wellbeing creates a motivated law enforcement organization that provides more benefits to the community they serve. Our two-part blog will discuss these factors and causes, why improved police morale can make a difference, and how law enforcement leaders can take meaningful steps using modern technology to address these issues.
Why Does Improving Police Morale Matter?
Effective law enforcement requires collaboration between officers and the community they serve. When police morale is high, positive interactions are more frequent, helping to build bridges, break down barriers, and facilitate communication. This collaboration, in turn, enables law enforcement to better understand the needs of the community, allowing for more effective crime prevention and resolution strategies.
Prioritizing steps to improve morale when it’s low, such as investing in public safety technology, helps officers continue to effectively serve community members. If the general mood at the agency is not monitored, officers can begin to experience burnout, leading to decreased engagement, motivation, and retention. Low morale has become more common in recent years, with a Police1 study from 2021 citing that mental health conditions, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), have been estimated to affect up to 35 percent of police officers during their careers.
Of course, it’s important to recognize the signs. Indicators can include:
Teammates not listening to each other
Officers showing lack of respect
Officers not taking the job seriously
Low efficiency among the team
Yet once you recognize a trend, how can agencies actually improve police morale? One way is by identifying the right individuals who can uphold integrity, encourage growth, and lead cohesive team. Having the right leadership is at the core of ensuring officers feel valued and supported within their agency. Once recognized, technology can help support improvement and support wellbeing initiatives.
Benefits of Improving Police Morale
Prioritizing officer morale and wellbeing can have several benefits for the agency at every level. On the other hand, there are also some risks that could affect the precinct and leadership who do not work to address morale issues on their team.
Benefits of Improving Police Morale
Risks of Not Improving Police Morale
Better customer service for the community
Less staff available to respond to the community
More community trust in the police department
Poor customer service outcomes
Motivated, purposeful workforce
Decreased public perception of law enforcement
Improving police morale is crucial to upholding a strong foundation of officers that work together to thoughtfully solve every day and unique problems regarding public safety in their community.
In part two of this blog, we uncover ways that agencies are currently improving morale, identify the impact of motivational leaders on officer mental health, and discover what innovative solutions are availble to combat burnout. A focus on wellbeing not only benefits individual officers but also promotes a healthier work environment, reducing the risk of fatigue, and enhancing overall departmental morale. When officers feel valued, they are more likely to exhibit a stronger commitment to serving the community and their role in public safety overall.
Continue reading - Why Technology Helps Your Public Safety Agency Address Morale and Retention