“My dear, you’ve had the power all along…”
–Glenda (the good witch) The Wizard of Oz
focusing too much on recruitment and not enough on retention? I will answer that for you, the answer is
How often do
we put our energy into the things we have very little or no control over rather
than the things we do? If we are honest
when we answer this question, the answer will most likely be “Most of the
For as long as I can remember, correctional
organizations have struggled with recruitment and retention, particularly for
the entry level, low paying jobs.
Depending on the political climate and the resources at hand,
organizations have typically thrown money into recruitment efforts by
establishing special units, investing in trinkets for recruitment fairs, and fighting
a “ lose-lose” battle to secure resources for higher entry salaries. Why did I refer to this as a” lose-lose
battle”? Stay with me….
argue with you that these are not all noble efforts, at least the continuing
effort to secure competitive compensation packages. However, if we look at the outcomes produced
over time, most of the energy put into these efforts was really just about
“making ourselves and others feel better about the problem.” This is a frequently used problem solving
strategy, but it never works. It only
delays the inevitable. What’s the inevitable? Continuing to do the same thing over and over
and expecting different results is the inevitable . . . yes, you know the quote . . . it's
the good witch told Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy asked her how she
could return home, Glenda replied, “My dear, you’ve had the power all
along.” So today I am Glenda, and
corrections organizations struggling with recruitment and retention are
Dorothy. Yes my dears, you all have had
the power all along . . . at least when we talk about retention.
read or been exposed to retention strategies.
Do exit surveys, treat your employees fairly, give them have a voice . .
. blah blah blah. Right? Well, it’s only blah, blah, blah because we
are not doing these things very well.
When was the last time you actually reviewed your recruitment statistics
over the past five years and then compared that to your retention stats? If your organization uses an exit tool, have
you really investigated its effectiveness?
How is it really being used in the field?
the last 50+ years continue to show that salaries are not the number 1 issue
for retention. It’s how the employee is
treated by the boss. So, get up out of
your chair and do something about this.
See, you have had the power all along.
If you are not holding your managers accountable for their retention
rates, you are not using one of the most powerful tools you have.
of the organization decide to make this personal and do something about it,
they decide to develop their managers and hold them accountable for this.
Do I have some managers that
“everyone knows” don’t play well with others?
Am I allowing this mold to grow?
How is my organization using the
employee performance evaluation tool? Is
it effective or just a joke?
What strategies and activities has
the organization deployed to emphasize retention, if any? Have they been effective?
Does my organization need assistance
in developing and holding managers accountable for retention, more effectively
utilizing the employee performance evaluation tool, and determining what steps
to take for succession planning?
What if all
you did was require all of your wardens to meet personally with each new
correctional officer hired and during that meeting they asked them to meet with
them prior to making a decision to leave the organization? This idea, as you are already smirking about,
will not be popular. However, I think
you might be surprised at the results you might get!
I referred to a “lose-lose” battle and asked that you stay with me. The battle is a “lose-lose” because if you
look at the data, you will see the when salary packages are slightly improved,
the recruitment/retention data may show improvement, but the momentum doesn’t
continue. This is a “lose-lose” because
the organization and the public are now investing more money in hiring and
training employees that are still leaving.