IN-CJ Podcast 053 – Just Psychology Workplace Resilience

IN-CJ Podcast 053 – Just Psychology Workplace Resilience

This episode of the IN-CJ podcast focuses on important justice issues, specifically discussing the topics of resilience and staff retention within the prison service.  Professor Jo Clarke, Gustav Tallving from EuroPris and Iva Prskalo from Croatia, share their perspectives and experiences. They discuss challenges faced by many staff members working in prisons across Europe, such as organised crime, overcrowding, violence, mental health disorders, recruitment difficulties, and the need for a holistic approach to staff well-being and retention. The conversation also explores the benefits of diverse recruitment strategies and the importance of supporting staff through various means to improve job satisfaction and retention. The conversation was facilitated by John Scott.

Jo Clarke from the UK, with extensive experience in the prison service and academia, focused on the impact of prison work on staff well-being. She stressed the importance of a holistic approach to staff well-being from recruitment to retirement. Jo critiqued the traditional approach of recruiting in the image of the existing workforce and highlighted the need to understand the values and motivations of younger generations (Gen Z). She emphasised recruiting the person to the role rather than fitting people into predefined roles.

Jo supported the idea of a unified state employment strategy to facilitate movement between different public sector roles, and mentioned the challenges of geographical constraints and the need for more flexible employment practices. She also highlighted the need for radical changes to make public service jobs more humane and compassionate, criticising political reluctance to implement necessary changes due to short-term electoral concerns. Clarke emphasised the importance of treating prison work as a privileged and valuable profession, despite its challenges.

Gustav Tallving of EuroPris highlighted several critical issues facing European prisons, including the increasing influence of organised crime, overcrowding, escalating violence among prisoners and against staff, and significant mental health disorders often linked with substance abuse. He emphasised the need for a holistic approach to these challenges, stressing the importance of leadership in addressing work satisfaction and retention. Gustav also suggested a unified employer strategy within the state to facilitate easier movement between different public sector jobs, aiming to enhance job satisfaction and retention.

Iva Prskalo from Croatia provided context on the Croatian prison and probation system, noting its small size and unique regional challenges. She discussed the historical attractiveness of prison jobs in Croatia due to better conditions and job security, but highlighted current difficulties in finding applicants, which raises concerns about the quality of recruitment. Iva emphasised the importance of positive public relations and presenting a realistic image of the prison system. She advocated for understanding and leveraging the strengths of younger generations, and suggested reconsidering age limits for recruitment to include older, experienced individuals. Additionally, Iva highlighted the potential benefits of job shadowing and the need for a more fluid and responsive system to maintain motivation and prevent attrition.

Rob Watson

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