A healthy correctional work environment fosters psychological and physical safety. Corrections professionals should understand their role as one that promotes human rights for all, be empowered and valued by leadership, and be supported in healing processes needed to address traumas from the workplace.

Pathways to improving morale and well-being for corrections professionals

1. Establish a workgroup of corrections professionals and incarcerated people to review practices and policies related to the work experience, work environment, and well-being of corrections staff to ensure that they align with this Morale and Well-Being Principle.

2. Provide team building and wellness days for staff who work on the same housing unit, including wellness luncheons and monthly self-care days.

3. Enhance staff access to quality supervision to support their success.

  • a. Provide staff with clear job descriptions that are reviewed annually, and recommend additional training as needed.
  • b. Mandate supervisors have frequent check-ins with their direct reports to maintain strong lines of communication, and provide staff with pertinent information and updates, feedback on performance, and resources for strengthening their skills on a path to leadership.
  • c. Create a confidential channel for communication between employees and leadership.

4. Increase professional development opportunities.

  • a. Create paths to advancement and pay increases that help retain talented corrections staff.
  • b. Establish staff engagement and training with corrections professionals and residents from other locations and states that adhere to ideals of dignity.

5. Institute and expand access to peer support groups for staff that

  • a. play an important role in debriefing after a critical incident;
  • b. celebrate and/or acknowledge staff achievements and hard work;
  • c. provide support to staff following on-the-job injury, illness, or family illness;
  • d. provide moral support for day-to-day difficulties faced on and off the job; and
  • e. organize activities to amplify the voices and concerns of line staff, lift staff morale, and encourage employee wellness.

6. Incentivize staff to engage positively with their coworkers and incarcerated people.

  • a. Publicly highlight staff behaviors that align with human-centered values and goals by, for example, acknowledging them in a team meeting, agency newsletter, or agency-wide email.
  • b. Encourage staff to participate in committees.
  • c. Encourage staff to create safe spaces for cultural healing and connection between incarcerated people and their families.

7. Create and enhance family orientation programming for new staff.

  • a. Provide regular workshops for the families of corrections professionals on how to support their loved ones.
  • b. Offer trainings to corrections professionals and their families on recognizing and mitigating stress.
  • c. Provide information to families of corrections professionals on how to access counseling and other services that will support them and their loved ones.

8. Promote informal interactions between staff and incarcerated people, fostering a sense of camaraderie through team-building events, social gatherings, and shared meals.

Morale and Well-Being Principle resources