We discussed previously why improving morale matters and the benefits of prioritizing officer wellbeing within an agency. However, what strategies can you implement to strengthen morale in your own agency, and what technologies are currently available that you can leverage to support the health of your officers? Discover more about how making these investments is now key to the success and resilience of your agency, as well as the safety and wellbeing of the communities you serve.
3 Ways to Improve Morale
Every agency will be slightly different in terms of how to best improve law enforcement morale. The four tips below generally work to shift officers frame of mind in the right direction. It may also be necessary for public safety leadership to institute some specific morale boosters based on the personalities in their agency or the situational logistics of their communities.
1. Give Credit and Praise When and Where It’s Deserved
The first way to foster good policing and improve morale is to understand how officers are performing so that credit can be given where it’s due. There are many ways to measure officer performance, including public safety software solutions such as Versaterm’s SPIDR Tech, that collect real feedback from the community through surveys.
These tools offer great insights into the interactions with the public – both good and not so pleasant. This information can help guide leadership on actions to take or praise to highlight. The metrics support continuous improvement programs. With actual data, praise and credit can be easily addressed and incentives can even be planned around certain statistical goals.
For example, if a police officer got to know a small business owner in their beat and learned that Saturday nights were the most common time the business saw theft, they could ensure security was available during that time and help reduce crime in the community. If that business owner communicated this level of attention and feedback to leadership at the agency, praise could be shared with the officer and this experience could be used to teach others in the force how to connect with the public to mitigate crime in their areas.
2. Optimize Team Dynamics
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to law enforcement leadership and building successful police departments. Team dynamics vary and need to be understood so you can foster the best organization for each precinct.
Efforts can be taken to strengthen the sense of purpose of each role in a precinct so that officers can feel needed and valued, even when times are tough. One way to optimize these dynamics is to pair partners who balance each other in personality, background, and skills so that bias is reduced, and officers know they are an integral part of their partnership based on the ideas and perception they bring.
3. Monitor Mental Health
Implementing strategies to monitor and measure how officers feel about their day-to-day responsibilities and interactions is an easy way to start noticing any changes in mental health in a precinct. Early intervention is important for maintaining morale and wellness.
One way to start doing this is through personal check-ins between leadership and each officer after a traumatic situation or case. This quick meeting can help officers feel supported and be informed of resources they can use to help them deal with their experience. Keeping track of these events systematically using software can also aid leadership in prompting a check-in after an event like this has occurred. These solutions help frontline supervisors to identify and monitor situations and decide when assistance may be required.
For example, Versaterm’s EIPro solution allows supervisors to be aware of potential issues before they develop and address them through real-time peer group analysis and early intervention. Its intuitive dashboard enables easy access to an officer’s recent incidents and — aided by visual indicators of areas of potential concern — helps identify and indicate when closer observation and support is needed.
The Impact of Motivational Leaders
Those individuals who display the following characteristics, taken from several of the traditional management styles, can uplift morale and create an environment that will benefit different personalities.
Conversational, clear instructions and communication, which can include:
Regular praise and recognition at the individual and team level
Individualized attention to support skill development
Clear language and direction to avoid confusion and create a positive atmosphere
Exhibiting high integrity that is passed down to the team, which can include:
Placing high value on the vision and mantra of the organization
Not coercive; leading by example is motivational and inspirational
An understanding of how to optimize organizational teamwork and promote understanding of different personalities and backgrounds
Being fair and having no bias
When employee well-being is a top priority, morale, retention, and workplace happiness are likely to thrive
Conflicts may be resolved faster as everyone knows they are being treated fairly
Caring for other police on a personal level
Gives all employees a voice directly with leadership personnel, which can boost engagement, morale, and retention
Can help build trust and confidence in leadership
Fosters understanding when other personnel have issues that may not be experienced by all (individuals with children as opposed to those without)
When law enforcement leaders are proactive about leveraging techniques such as those above, it becomes easier to implement specific practices which improve morale based on their officers and their environment. Public safety technology, like Versaterm’s SPIDR Tech and EIPro, can also be a valuable resource in helping leadership cultivate these strategies to ensure officers feel valued and supported.
Key Takeaways No one wants to feel like they are not a contributing member of a team or are less important than anyone else, including police officers. In terms of law enforcement, a shift in morale can spark from motivational leadership in multiple areas of the organization, including direct supervision and upper management. This type of leadership exhibits qualities that support team members, foster communication, and support, and promote ideas to drive new processes or solutions.
Leadership should also remember to prioritize:
Regular check-ins, recognition for achievements, and conversations with officers that isn’t solely about work
Police mental health and resources that can help officers deal with traumatic experiences or negative public perception
Measuring performance and collecting community feedback to help officers understand and improve their interactions with the public and ultimately their perception
Management and supervisors can integrate technology into their processes for monitoring situations to provide feedback, guidance, and support. These solutions help leadership and others simplify their tasks so they can focus on the work that needs to be done. Together with the right motivational people, your agency can achieve the better outcomes of improved morale and retention. Ready to explore Versaterm’s ecosystem of solutions? Set up your personalized meeting with one of our experts.