What steps can the NC Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC) take to improve the methodology and data collection activities it uses to measure employee engagement, morale, job stress, and other factors related to staff decisions to stay with or leave the agency?

Project started: February 1, 2024
Department or Agency: NC Department of Adult Correction

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Topics
Criminal JusticeData collectionEvidence-based PracticePublic SafetyRecruitment and retentionRehabilitation and reentry

Project Overview

Summary

The NC Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC) and the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) hosted a research partnership interest meeting on February 1, 2024,to discuss this project and a separate project. Click here for the meeting recording and slide deck.

Project description updated 5/15/2024.

The NCDAC Workforce Management Section is partnering with the Health Interventions in the Legal System Lab (HILS Lab) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work to review the methodology, practices, and data collection instruments the agency uses to understand employee engagement, morale, job stress, and other factors related to staff decisions to stay with or leave the agency. NCDAC aims to develop a methodology to understand the employee experience at three key points in an employee’s tenure with the agency: 1) at the beginning of employment with NCDAC, 2) after completion of a probationary new-hire period, and 3) upon leaving employment with NCDAC. The methodology would provide NCDAC with actionable data regarding what factors contribute to an employee’s experience from arrival to exit. This data could inform future NCDAC recruitment and retention strategies.

In addition to a review of its methodology, practices, and data collection instruments, NCDAC and the HILS Lab will research and develop an approach on: 1) how to best quantify employee morale through the qualitative and quantitative data it collects from staff, and 2) how to incorporate “stay interviews” (interviews to learn why staff stay with the agency) into existing efforts to measure employee engagement.

NCDAC identified this research question through the NCDAC and OSP partnership, which is a broader strategic effort, to develop NCDAC’s Priority Questions Research Agenda. This process included feedback from internal and external stakeholders who discussed in listening sessions the staff retention challenges that NCDAC is facing, particularly for front-line employees like corrections and probation and parole officers.

NCDAC identifies outcomes related to employee engagement, employee morale, and job stress as key factors related to staff decisions to stay with or leave the agency. Staffing levels are paramount for NCDAC to effectively provide security for and deliver rehabilitation and reentry services to those under its custody and supervision.

Anticipated deliverables

  • An inventory of existing and planned NCDAC Workforce Management Section data collection instruments and activities to measure and understand agency employee engagement, morale, job stress, and other factors.
  • Recommended framework for comprehensively assessing and measuring employee engagement, employee morale, job stress, etc. as key factors related to staff decisions to stay with or leave the agency.
  • Revised and new data collection instruments to measure employee engagement, morale, job stress, and other factors aligned with recommended changes in methodology. This includes a request to identify and share examples, or develop new instruments, to implement “stay interviews” with NCDAC staff and how to quantify NCDAC employee morale.
  • Presentations to NCDAC leadership on recommended changes to agency methodology used to measure employee engagement, morale, job stress, and other factors that affect whether employees stay with or leave the agency.

Planned use of results

NCDAC will use project results to update and revise its current practices to measure and understand how employee engagement, employee morale, job stress, and other factors relate to staff decisions to stay with or leave the agency, and potential actions the agency can take to address identified issues, when appropriate.

Data

NCDAC and its research partner will work together to assess what data, documents, and other information are available to assist with this project. Existing information that NCDAC will make available to its research partner includes:

  • Data collection instruments from “facility assessments,” which involve both quantitative (survey-based) and qualitative (interview) data;
  • Survey instrument from NCDAC designed to measure employee engagement, employee morale, job stress, and other factors.
  • Workforce Management Section staff will meet as needed with the research team to share information about current activities to measure and assess employee engagement and other relevant information.

The project is in progress.

We plan to post results and deliverables when the project is complete. In the meantime, we welcome questions about the project.

Project point of contact

Tiffany Vaughan

Employee Engagement Director, Workforce Management

NC Department of Adult Correction

Tiffany.Vaughan@dac.nc.gov


Project Team

NC Department of Adult Correction

NC Office of Strategic Partnerships

Health Interventions in the Legal System Lab (HILS Lab) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work

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