Recruitment and Retention

Train to Retain — Developing Corrections Staff

While technology such as better video surveillance, communications, tablets, and kiosks have greatly improved and enhanced the job of correctional officers, one thing has remained constant: We must have enough staff to maintain the posts, walk the tiers and floors, and provide safety and security to everyone who lives, works, and visits a correctional facility. As corrections leaders, we must do what we can not only to hire enough people, but also to help them develop into good corrections professionals. And by doing so, hopefully we can retain them. If we retain good people, it will both improve the department and serve as a legacy.

Staff Recruitment and Retention in Corrections: The Challenge and Ways Forward

Recruitment and retention has been one of the toughest challenges in corrections historically because of several factors. The most important reason behind this challenge is the fact that an occupation in corrections involves violence and confrontations with incarcerated individuals. Agency culture and environmental factors are directly related to retention and recruitment. Evaluating facility cultures and being mindful of generational differences are key to understanding shrinking corrections workforces. Attracting new people to the profession is difficult and retaining staff is problematic given the average length of time correctional officers staying employed in corrections ranges from less than one year to five years.33 Despite the challenges the field has and continues to face, it’s clear that corrections administrators are using their historical experiences to explore new ways to hire and keep staff. Taking a holistic approach to the hiring and retention process has resulted in dividends that will hopefully have long-term payoffs. Offering a comprehensive staff wellness program helps to promote healthy correctional institution, increases engagement among employees, sets up a healthier and more productive workforce, attracts candidates by adding appeal to job seekers, promotes healthy correctional institutions, and keeps more experienced individuals in the field.