While correctional agencies have always operated within a fluctuating environment, today’s staffing shortages have placed an unprecedented strain on resources by necessitating additional safety precautions and expenditures. This combined with declines in recruitment levels, has correctional personnel assuming multiple roles and working longer hours.
While agencies are now facing intense pressure to perform with limited resources, they must do so with a sense of real-time accountability and transparency. With increased auditing and regulatory compliances, improving operational and administrative workforce efficiencies is no longer an option. It’s a reality. The real question is ‘how’?
In this blog, we'll take a look at how your workforce data can provide data-driven insights for more efficient management of your correctional workforce.
The Power of Data Analytics in Corrections
What is data-driven insights? What it’s not is reducing the workforce into mere numbers or spreadsheets. Rather, it’s about enhancing your knowledge and foresight using quantifiable information from the past. Consider the benefits of anticipating officer burnout before it happens or forecasting staffing shortages. Workforce analytics is about using the past to help plan your future.
Unveiling Patterns & Trends
Proper staffing represents the heart of managing any prison or jail. However, traditional scheduling methods that use ad hoc methods augmented by spreadsheet is inefficient and prone to error. Leveraging workforce data can help staffing managers identify patterns in staffing needs based on multiple factors -- like no-show rates, absentee trends and gender requirements. This empowers better staffing decisions to mitigate overtime costs, reduce compliance liability, and reduce staff shortages.
Real-Time Reporting That Empowers Decision-Makers
One unique advantage of workforce analytics is real-time reporting. By conditioning your data to send ongoing, scheduled reports to specific personnel or personnel groups at predefined dates/time periods you’ll increase both administrative and operational efficiencies.
Here’s a few examples of the types of analytical reports used by forward thinking correctional facilities:
- Cost comparisons by pods or divisions
- Cost of backfilling absenteeism
- Pay period cost comparisons
- Staffing-to-bed-count ratios
- Time-off projections vs. staffing requirements
- Overtime causes over time
- Inmate transport trends
- Time & attendance issues
- Mandatory vs. voluntary OT comparisons
- Policy violation trends
- HR statistical reporting
- Training reporting
From Budgeting to Safety to Retention and More
Since labor cost is typically your largest expense, using analytics for data-driven decisions rather than subjective ones is invaluable. Just knowing there is a problem isn’t enough. You’ve got to get to the root cause so you can understand and make sound business decisions. Are you under staffed and that's what is driving your overtime up? Beyond labor, what are you other highest costs? Being able to evaluate cost-of-services is key to managing your financial stability.
Workforce analytics can be used in many other ways. For one, your data can be used to help increase officer safety by pinpointing potential workplace risk factors. This could include identifying patterns of officer fatigue, violence or injuries, or the impact of untrained personnel. What areas do you have the most operational risk? That's always a good place to start.
Analytics is especially valuable as a means of helping to understand retention – especially in corrections where attrition rates are high. Analyzing data such as salary and benefits, exit surveys, and career advancement rates can be useful in determining stronger retention policies. Other types of data to consider are shift patterns, overtime hours, and training programs. Analytical trends using this type of data will help develop strategies to reduce turnover rates.
Best Practices and Recommendations
While the potential benefits of embracing workforce analytics in corrections are significant, it’s important to recognize that data privacy and security are critical concerns. Facilities must implement robust security measures to protect confidentiality, maintaining an appropriate balance between data privacy and accessibility for informed decision-making.
To effectively manage your analytics, it’s important to use robust data collection systems that breaks down data silos and fosters department collaboration. Provide your staff with the training they need to effectively use your data effectively. And don’t forget to schedule continuous evaluations of your result. Having the ability to view your data from different organizational points-of-view will build consensus and go a long way in socializing better policies.
Begin by asking what's your most impactful workforce pain points? Here’s a few ideas to help you get started. Narrow these down to a few key areas that have the broadest effect on your entire organization.
- What are we trying to achieve with these analytics?
- Do they need to be shared on a continuous basis and with whom?
- What data sources will we use and what type of data do we collect ?
- How often will the data be collected?
- Do we have the right technical staff to structure our datasets, or do we outsource?
- What type of visualization format(s) should we use?
- Who will be responsible for acting on identified issues?
Analytics can enable better decision-making for managing your correctional workforce. The key lies in your data. You must determine the best ways of using it to understand it in meaningful ways. Success in daily operations stems from the type of data, how it is used, with whom it is shared and how often. Let your workforce data guide you to work smarter and operate your agency safer. Once you get started, you'll be amazed by the insights it will provide.
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