Creating value in public safety wellness services? Here’s an approach to improve police departments across America.

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This article brought to you by Brian Ellis, Mitch Javidi Ph.D, & Jeff Kingsfield – National Command & Staff College

Procuring essential equipment for public safety organizations is a tall order requiring strategic planning and a tailored approach, having financial to operational implications.

In addition, there is the notion of public value for the expenditure- just what kind of impact is this financial cost having on constituents? Because of this, acquisition of goods and services for public safety entities can be a daunting process; requiring research and foresight to make good outcomes for the agency and the public. A typical example of the process for acquiring might go like this:

Imagine a police agency is looking to purchase firearms for their organization. The project would be assigned to a project manager who would research all aspects of a use case for each weapon system, looking at things like:

  • Evaluating the Equipment: Looking at strengths and weaknesses of each system like ergonomics, safety controls, ease of use, trigger reach & pull, recoil, performance, and ease of maintenance. Lifespan of firearm, and associated costs for the system including maintenance, ammunition, and accessory options.
  • Ensuring testing and safety specifications are detailed: Seeking a manufacturer with an established track record. Reliability of the system, because these tools are used in life & death emergencies, it is imperative that these systems have a high level of reliability and other safety requirements.
  • Training plan: Ensuring users understand the system and features, and everything from clearing malfunctions to reducing risks of accidental discharges.
  • Project financials: Understanding the total cost of the project, detailing out the return of investment, and making a good use case that the financial output will be a benefit to the organization.
Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open
Copyright free stock image.

As you can imagine, selecting a weapons system is a comprehensive process, as this piece of equipment can have life-or-death implications. As we pivot to officer peak performance and wellness, the authors would ask if the same level of concernment and diligence is being taken with regards to the wellness of their organizations?

Peak performance and wellness are after all connected to the most important tool an officer has for any situation: their mind and its capacity to re-learn and re-wire.

To achieve public safety’s mission to protect and serve, officers themselves must be in good physical and mental health to appropriately carry out their duties; and leaders must do their part in making officer safety and wellness a top priority (Hill, Whitcomb, Patterson, Stephens, & Hill, 2014).

If we are making peak performance and wellness a top priority, we must ask what is the value proposition of a good program, product, or service and how do you effectively evaluate it?

Evaluations and measurements have been challenging in the wellness space, leading to leaders questioning if their efforts are working or not as stated by Hill, et. al:

Ideally, a campaign would have a clear starting point that would enable you to measure whether your efforts are making a difference in employee health and wellness or officer safety. Unfortunately, many campaigns offer little that helps leaders know if they are making any progress.

This may be because no data exists or because a campaign is proactively addressing concerns before they manifest into problems that would rise to the level of being tracked.

In the struggle with measuring outcomes, many organizations simply default to a position that essentially says, “We did a lot—sent out e-mails, put up posters, created videos, and hosted events. We’re not sure if we really made a difference, but we hope we did” (p.46).

Creating value in public safety wellness services? Here's an approach to improve police departments across America.

Beyond the organizational value proposition, public safety leaders also have an obligation to the public ensuring the budgets they lead lend themselves in showing “a value from and for the public” (Meynhart, 2015, p.148).

Because of this, officer peak performance and wellness initiatives should not be seen as an imperative that leaders can simply check the box, providing options because they think they must without having any notion in knowing if they are making a difference or not.

If we look back on to the firearm scenario above, if data presented itself that there were malfunctions, mishaps, or value was not being presented; it would translate into immediate action of looking into another system.

The authors propose that there is no way of showing the real value of a peak performance or wellness campaign absent of a way to measure it. At the heart of providing value is knowing the answer to if the goods or services provided value to the organization and the public.

In a world of analytics, building adequate measurements of aggregated, confidential, and anonymous peak performance and wellness profiles through technology enabled solutions such as www.MAGNUSWorx.com becomes increasingly important agencies; especially in times where it is impacting everything from recruitment to retention and decisions in the field for maximized RESULTS.

Dallas Police Department
screen shot taken from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTL00jmOlnk

Because of this, we propose that public safety leaders ask the following questions when considering a peak performance and wellness goods or service for their agencies:

  1. Can the positive impact of the goods or service on officers and professional staff be measured and reported in an aggregated way while maintain full confidentiality? At the heart of public safety wellness initiatives rests the discussion of confidentiality to protect individuals as well as engage them in the use of said services. Any goods or services should adopt a guiding principle of confidentiality (theiacp.org).
  2. Do the goods or services build performance of the organization, and can we measure it? Good performance measurement is increasingly at the ‘pointy’ end of good management and in a world which is becoming increasingly rich with data, leaders and managers must lean on metrics to better understand and interpret what is going on in their organizations and how to appropriately respond (Fisher, 2021).
  3. Can the organization and officers see and understand the added value attributes of those goods or services? The McKinsey Corporation found that eighty-nine percent of employees want more purpose from work than they’re currently getting, and organizations must commit to reflecting, connecting, repeating initiatives that add value for employees (McKinsey.com).
  4. Can you measure before, during, and after the addition of goods or services? As we pointed out earlier, data is everywhere in our world, and the real opportunity is to use it to illuminate opportunities for continuous improvement, growth and understanding. Organizations must understand where they were, where they are, and where they are going to build substantial and continuous improvements within the organization.
  5. Can the good or service be customized for the organization’s specific needs with measurable aggregated data to benchmark ROI and outcomes? Cookie-cutter approaches simply do not work, agencies need to customize their wellness approaches to their specific requirements, expectations, and other factors (bcg.com).
  6. Does the organization have interconnectivity between the goods/services provider to make necessary adjustments to the organization’s wellness profile? There is a case to make for goods and services that provide a synergy potential – an opportunity for organizations to earn higher yields on its investments and maintain those efforts over time – building a much higher competitive advantage (Damodaran, 2005).

Conclusion

At the end of the day, public safety organizations will play at the level of their capacities.

Those agencies who focus on the knowledge, skills, and abilities of their people AND build an organizational construct that builds and plays in a continuous improvement model have the largest abilities to thrive in today’s world where volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity are around every corner.

Today’s world requires leaders to be innovative, thoughtful, and resourceful. Maximizing efforts to build the capacities of their people require intention and a comprehensive process. With the state of public safety wellness, we can’t simply leave this remarkable topic up to the fate of our hope- we must be deliberate, scientific, and committed to building a resilient workforce.

References

Boston Consulting Group (2021). Successful Due Diligence. Retrieved 10/10/2022 from https://media-publications.bcg.com/flash/PDF/Due_Diligence.pdf

Damodaran, A. (2005). The Value of Synergy. Stern School of Business. Retrieved 10/11/2022 from https://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/pdfiles/papers/synergy.pdf

Fisher, N. (2021). Performance Measurement: Issues, Approaches, and Opportunities. Retrieved 10/10/2022 from file:///Users/brianellis/Downloads/1kvwq9598lxmxo2hmj6m9md1lsqdn391.pdf

Hill, Julia, Sean Whitcomb, Paul Patterson, Darrel W. Stephens, and Brian Hill. 2014. Making Officer Safety and Wellness Priority One: A Guide to Educational Campaigns. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

IACP. Practices in Modern Policing: Officer Safety and Wellness. Retrieved on 10/10/2022 from https://www.theiacp.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/IACP_PMP_SafetyandWellness.pdf

McKinsey and Company. People and Organizational Performance: Our Insights Help Your Employees Find Purpose or Watch Them Leave. Retrieved 10/11/2022 from https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/help-your-employees-find-purpose-or-watch-them-leave

Meynhardt, T. Public Value: Turning a Conceptual Framework into a Scorecard,

Public Value and Public Administration, Georgetown University Press, Washington (2015), pp. 147-169

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Creating value in public safety wellness services? Here's an approach to improve police departments across America.

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