Webinar presenter Brenda Dietzman answered a number of your questions after her webinar, Corrections Staff Wellness. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: Are there any organizational HR, EAP, or national committees that are specific to addiction recovery that I might be able to help out with?
Brenda Dietzman: So, he wants to actually be part of that organization or volunteer? You know, that’s a great question. I’m going to have to think about that a little bit, so if you can reach out to me, and I will come up with some resources for you, because they’re absolutely out there, and it would kind of depend on how you want to help out as well. So, I can absolutely put you in touch with somebody that can help you out in that area.
Audience Question: My organization has its ears open about creatively working with improving the wellness of staff. However, we currently do not have the fiscal resources to create a wellness room. Any suggestions on grants or other funding that may address the creation of wellness rooms for corrections staff?
Brenda Dietzman: You know what, if you’ve got a room, you’ve got the ability. Here in Wichita, I work with the coalition that’s really looking at helping out first responders, and the helping professions, and I found business people that were willing to stock that room, furnish the room, put new flooring down, all of that for free because they understand the importance of the first responder world. So, find somebody that’s passionate about it. It sounds like you already have that within your organization, and ask for permission always, of course, from your administrators. But go out and contact some business people that might be interested in helping you out with that.
Audience Question: What are some ways to get the key people to approve a wellness program, especially when the first question is going to be, how much is this going to cost?
Brenda Dietzman: You know, you can do so much that doesn’t cost money. And I hope I touched on some of those things today. But in the end, yes, everything costs money, all right? So, how do you do that? The big thing is that you have to know your audience when asking for resources. So, who are you speaking with specifically, is that the person that is going to write the check? If that’s the case, then you have to show them why it’s important, and you can do that through retention statistics. You can do that through exit interviews of why people are leaving. I will tell you that doing the work I do in recruiting and retention, the studies show that people don’t feel invested in, and they don’t feel cared about. So, when you can show studies like that, then absolutely do a little bit. Like if they give an inch and give you 100 bucks or 200 bucks, or give you, more importantly, the time to put this in place, do those follow-up surveys about job satisfaction. And it might not be as big as a survey. It might just be anecdotal things from individuals that say, “You know what I’m staying because of this and this and this and this.” But give them the money reasons on why to do this. It was interesting, before the pandemic, corrections were in a bit of a crisis regarding retaining and recruiting people and we were understaffed. It’s just gotten exponentially worse. But the thing that I found is that jail administrators would go to the budget authority within their organization and go, we need pay raises. Because we’re not retaining people. People are going to work at Lowe’s and Home Depot and Walmart because they get paid more there, and people are like, “No, it’s not a priority, you’re still doing your job, you’re fulfilling your mission. So, carry on. There’s no money in the budget for that.” But then, all of a sudden when the pandemic hit and we started losing a lot of people in corrections because of the pay, all of a sudden, we decided that this is the only jail in this county or this is only a prison system that we have and, it’s got to be staffed. So, we’re losing people to the point where we can’t do this anymore. You know what, there is money in the budget for pay raises. And that’s kind of a sad thing that we had to do that, to get there, to get a lot of pay raises for the good folks across the United States. I know there are still people who haven’t gotten pay raise. But you have to show them, knowing your audience, you have to show them the reasons why budgetarily why it’s important to spend this money. Because if you retain just one person off of the work that you do, I guarantee you, that you’ve paid for whatever it is they paid for. I don’t care whether it’s a yoga class or if it’s training or whatever it is. It gets paid for instantly by retaining just one person. So, know your audience and show them through studies, through organization-specific information, like, “I stayed because of whatever,” and then show them the value of it that way. And if you can’t do it that way, you go out, and you find other studies or other organizations that already have implemented a wellness program that can show that they retain people because of that and that their staff is better off, less burned out, more resilient because of it.
Audience Question: I’ve heard that stay interviews are also very effective, where we explore, why do employees stay? Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Brenda Dietzman: I love stay interviews. When people leave, I need to know that information as an administrator, absolutely. But I want to know why people stay. Because this gives me recruiting information. Because if the reason people stay, if I know that, I can go out and use that as a recruiting tool explaining why people stay in our organization because X, Y, and Z. And people will stay because of those reasons, or come to the organization, because of those reasons. If I can put that in a brochure or statistics, people are going to be drawn to that, and people will stay and will be drawn to my organization. It also lets me know what I’m doing right as an organization and to keep going down that path. And again, as you said, it kind of goes back to my last answer of what people find valuable right now? What is making them stay at my organization? Because, right now, that’s what I absolutely need to be doing. Because we just know, we can’t recruit enough to fill the spots of the people that are leaving. So, having that stay interview, and I talk about that, and some of my other trainings on that online course that you talked about earlier, Aaron. Why that’s just so important. So great question, and please consider doing that.
Audience Question: Are you aware of any other organizations that require a mental health check at least once a year?
Brenda Dietzman: Carrie, that’s a great question. And I think that should be, it should just be mandatory for everyone, everywhere, and I don’t care whether you’re selling ice-cream cones, or you’re a detention facility. Providing that service to your folks and getting people to understand that. It’s just like we go to the doctor at least once a year for a medical checkup. We go to the eye doctor when we can’t see anymore. We go to the dentist at least twice a year. But we think that the most complicated organ in our body is something that, “Yeah, I got this! I can take care of this myself.” These people are trained to understand how humans work and they deal with humans all day long and listen to their deepest darkest secrets and help them become better. A therapist doesn’t make you better. You make yourself better, but they help you understand how to do that. Just having that little mental checkup can actually prevent a lot of problems in the future. So, yes, I know that they do that. At my former organization, where I used to work at. Now, that is just one of those things that you have to go and do. And, again, I mean, you can’t force somebody to be fully into therapy, into the mental health check. You can’t make them talk but it gives them an opening where, when no one else is around, it might just be the difference between that person getting the help that they need and not. Because taking that first step towards therapy, I can tell you, from personal experience, is really, really hard. So, if it’s just a mandatory thing, where they have to go do it, it’s going open some doors for people, and I think it’s just, I think, it’s a great thing, and, Carrie, I hope you’re doing it. And if not, I hope you follow your passion and make that happen within your organization.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Corrections Staff Wellness.