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How training can curtail turnover in corrections

Good training strategies make for competent employees who are in their element at work and less likely to look for greener pastures

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Let’s face a harsh truth: Working in a jail, prison, or juvenile detention center is not the easiest job. You’re constantly surrounded and outnumbered by difficult people. The irregular work hours are physically and mentally demanding. It’s just not a “normal” environment.

All this contributes to an increasing turnover rate among corrections officers.

While there’s no “one size fits all” solution, there is one key area we should consider to curtail high turnover: training. Solid, verifiable, realistic, ongoing training.

Pre-service or academy training provides a great foundation to build on. But nothing can prepare corrections officers for the nuances of the job better than practical experience while under the close watch of good field training officers.

Academy or other pre-service training does not help new employees overcome a natural fear of dealing with or being surrounded by inmates. We need to teach them how to interact with inmates. We need to teach them agency-specific policies and procedures. And we do this with on-the-job training.

If you don’t have a robust FTO program, start one and select your best and brightest staff to serve in this capacity. They can show new employees the ropes and closely supervise them to ensure the training is taking hold.

Also, successful completion of the field training program should be a beginning, not the end. Keep them trained up! That means in-service training, briefing training, daily training, tabletop and hypothetical exercise training, and off-site training.

“Gordon, that sounds like a lot of work.” It is! But look, turnover is costly. Investing time, money, and effort into training employees is a very worthwhile retention investment. Good training strategies make for competent employees who are in their element at work and less likely to look for greener pastures.

And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off.

For more tips from Gordon, click here.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.