Family-Supportive and Safety-Supportive Supervisor Behavior Training in Corrections Personnel

Charlotte Fritz, Ph.D. (PI) and Leslie Hammer, Ph.D. (Co-Investigator), Portland State University

The purpose of this research is to conduct a trial of a family-supportive and safety-supportive supervisor behavior training to reduce employee stress, and increase employee work-life balance, well-being, and safety and health behaviors. The project builds directly on a previous collaborative project with the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) which included a survey study examining work stress, work-life balance, and well-being. Thus, our already ongoing research collaboration with the ODOC has provided us with extensive insights into work stress, and work-life balance in the corrections occupations and provides us with the necessary support and context to conduct the proposed study.

Specifically, our study adapts existing evidence-based training materials to the correctional setting and implements the training with supervisors in two correctional facilities in Oregon in a quasi-experimental design including an intervention facility and waitlist control facility. We chose two facilities that were similar in size, location, security level, and levels of supervisor support as well as work-family conflict. To conduct an initial evaluation of the training, we measure relevant variables (i.e., supervisory support, employee work-family conflict, well-being, and safety and health behaviors) one month before the supervisor training and three months after the training.

Our work is aimed at reducing work stress and work-family conflict, while promoting well-being and positive health behaviors (exercise, reduced smoking, enhanced sleep, etc.) in corrections personnel. Therefore, the supervisor training aims at protecting correction personnel health and safety long-term. As such, our project aligns with the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center’s mission for improving occupational health, worker safety, and personal wellness in the context of Total Worker HealthTM (TWH). The Primary Aim of this research study is to assess the effects of the supervisor training on employee well-being, work-life balance, and safety and health behaviors. A Secondary Aim is to modify and adapt the supervisor training for use in the correctional setting to prepare the training for use in a larger randomized control trial.

Based on Pilot Project funding provided through the OHWC (September 2013 to August 2014) we have adapted the existing supervisor training materials to the correctional setting, have conducted pre-training data collection (n=166 out of 613) in both facilities and have finished training supervisors (n=41 out of 48) in the intervention facility. We finished the post-training survey data collection and as well as the training for supervisors in the waitlist control facility. The ODOC leadership, the management in both participating facilities, and labor representatives strongly supported our project.

Based on the collected data we conducted a variety of analyses. The results were reported back to the ODOC as well as to the OHWC. Furthermore, we provided the ODOC with handouts that can be distributed to supervisors aiming at supporting their correctional officers around work-family and safety issues. As a next step, we presented the results of the project at the Work, Stress, & Health Conference in Atlanta in May 2015. We are now in the process of preparing a manuscript for publication in an academic journal.

Pictures from our Project

Pictures from our ProjectPictures from our Project

Pictures from our Project