Police's lot is not a happy one

Southern police are slightly less happy in their work than their northern counterparts, according to a new survey, but dissatisfaction is nothing new and southern police officers do not think the results would be much different in most work places.

The results of the Gallup Employee Engagement Survey released yesterday showed 22% of police officers were not happy in their jobs and a further two-thirds were merely going through the motions at work.

Only 13% of the 4880 police staff who responded to the survey were loyal and committed to the job compared with the 22% who were so unhappy in their work, they were "psychologically absent'' and insisted on sharing their unhappiness with colleagues.

A separate survey of CIB staff, completed months before the overall survey of sworn and non-sworn staff throughout the organisation, produced similar results.

In the Southern police district 246 police staff completed the anonymous survey.

On a scale of 0 to 5 southern officers had a score of 3.45 for overall satisfaction compared with a national mean of 3.49 and a score of 3.38 for employee engagement compared with a grand mean score for New Zealand Police of 3.40.

Dunedin police officers spoken to yesterday said they did not have a problem with the job, just the management of it.

Several commented that they thought having 78% of staff satisfied with their job was a "pretty good'' level and that they would not be surprised if most workplaces would return the same, or even worse, results if they were surveyed in the same way.

Another said: "You get back out of it whatever you put in''.

Police Association representative for the Southern district Tracey Maclennan, of Invercargill, said the report did not create large ripples among police staff in Otago and Southland when the results were released to them a few weeks ago, because they were not surprised.

They were, however, pleased the police hierarchy had released the results into the public domain as it was recognition from above that there was a problem.

She said heavy workloads, lack of staff and resources and poor management were the main concerns of southern police, as they were across the country.

A strong theme coming from the survey was that police wanted to do their job well.

"What restricts them is their resources, a lack of front-line staff and other resources, like computers.

"I don't think they would feel so upset if they didn't actually want to do a good job.''

Staff signalled a lack of regular recognition and praise for doing good work affected their job satisfaction and Ms Maclennan pointed to police communications centres which had the highest levels of satisfaction.

"They have had a lot of resources and time poured into them over the last few years.''

Southern district commander George Fraser said the survey results provided a way forward.

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