Being able to maintain staff morale is a huge challenge for most organisations particularly in the current difficult financial climate. People can quickly lose patience and become frustrated with many things, a lack of promotion opportunities, pay freeze, and increasing scrutiny of what they do. It all leads to a position where the potentially most valuable advocates of the organisation become the biggest critics.
It is easy to slip into a negative perspective and to focus on the things that are frustrating about work. So, how do we get people to see the positive in what they do at work? I don’t want them to ignore when things need to be changed, but it should be set in context of the whole job experience.
This week I had the pleasure of talking about a career within the police service to children at a local school who are in the final few years. I was supported to do this by a local police officer and police community support officer who I hadn’t met before we got together on the morning of the careers fair. After brief introductions the discussion quickly turned to questioning how they could provide details of the career in a neutral or positive light when they would like a good moan. We allowed ourselves to have that moaning time but then had to start talking about the work to the youngsters. We talked about all the positives as well as some of the challenges that have to be faced and very quickly were enthusing about the great elements of being part of a team and being able to make a real difference to communities. In the end it was quite an uplifting experience and great to speak to so many young people who were interested in the police as a career.
My second event that boosted morale was on Friday (27 June) at the Chief Constable’s Excellence Awards. An annual event that recognises the great work across teams, individuals, police officers, staff and volunteers. There were some amazing stories about the work that teams and individuals had done. Nominees and winners alike there was little to choose between stories of determination, commitment and professionalism.
But the most amazing element were the three pairs of officers who had been shortlisted for the bravery award. Each one was a story of heroism, professionalism, determination and personal sacrifice. A number of people in my team commented on how proud they felt working for an organisation where officers put themselves in such danger to protect others on a daily and hourly basis. They were right. After 13 years in Greater Manchester Police and 15 years in policing I remembered why I love the job I do as a small part of the force.
I know I will have a good moan next week about some of the difficulties, challenges and problems I face. But I need to hang onto the experiences I have had this week to remind me of the positives within the job. The key for communicators will be to be able to replicate this feeling for all staff through truly effective internal communication work.