Nova Scotia Corrections Services

Workers’ compensation claims, short- and long-term disability claims and absenteeism rates have been increasing over the past few years within the Nova Scotia Corrections Division correctional workers and captains. This has put an additional financial burden on government finances and increased pressure on employees who are still working to fill in all the staffing gaps. There was a great deal of strain between employees and employer on how to best address this issue. There had been a great deal of money and time spent on trying to fix the situation. However, even with all the money and effort spent the situation continued to get worse and employee physical and psychological health continued to be a concern.

The methodological approach taken came from Howatt HR TalOpTM (an integrated talent and operations management approach). This intervention included a job analysis for both correctional officers and captains roles to understand clearly what intrapersonal skills are required to do the job successfully in this environment. As well, a quality of work life study looked at the entire workforce’s perceptions of work stressors, cognitive coping strategies, and current health (physical, psychological and emotional). This study’s goal was to get a baseline of the workforce’s health and competencies to deal with current levels of perceived stress. The next step was to compare the findings to the organization’s current talent and operational management capacity to determine how prepared the organization was to close the gaps defined or if there would be a need to develop capacity. The final solution would be a collaborative intervention that would require the active participation of the government, union, and employees.

Howatt HR developed a Quality of Work life Model and a Quality of Work Life Questionnaire, job analysis methodology, and on-line tool for correctional officers and captains. The final technical reports provided defined core competencies and observations for improving the quality of work life for both correctional officers and captains that is to be used to facilitate decision making and planning.