Webinar presenter Evie Monnington-Taylor answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Recruiting a Diverse Police Force. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: You talked about how challenges and career were the most compelling messaging you think Chattanooga as a city. Did these results vary by the city? Did you see a difference of setup of values or characteristics in Tacoma versus Chattanooga versus North Bend, did you see differences by city or was it predominantly the demographics?
Evie Monnington-Taylor: We did see some differences by cities some of which I’ve presented that we kind of found sometimes trying identity message might be better than the belonging message. We do see differences by city. I will say that overall, we find that those messages that highlight either personal benefit. We are talking about the challenges of that career or the kind of career benefits you might get from it. Also thinking about those kind of identity and belonging messages when I’m trying to recruit in more diverse cohort. You can find that there are probably more effective than the more traditional kind of service and social impact messages. Yes, we do generally see differences that’s why that’s what we recommend and it always testing
Audience Question: You mentioned that we need to test based on our unique context, our city, our demographics, etc. Is this because of the big differences in our communities?
Evie Monnington-Taylor: Yes. It is probably because of the different number of different factors that could affect why they can be a motivation that people have to apply right. These are quite likely to be different because of the communities also because of time. For instance’s sake, that may well be different types of people in your community. They may have different experiences with your police department could also different things might have happened like things might have happened in years that mean that a message that affects us one day might not be effective next day. This kind of testing is really important to think about kind of just try and iron out those differences and think about what works best with your community. I guess it’s kind of hard to tell exactly why you might see these differences but those could be some of those.
Audience Question: Once we do our testings and find something or find the effectiveness of a certain message then do we need to go back and reevaluate those messages and retest on a periodic basis?
Evie Monnington-Taylor: Basically yes. What we kind of advocate at the Behavioral Insight Team is something called test (indiscernible 1:02:43). Ideally what we do is let’s say you trial a control, again, a challenge message, a service message, an identity message. If you find that a challenge was most effective, you would then say okay take that successful result and iterate on it a bit. Think about what can we do to add to challenge, to try and make it more effective? Then run another trial. Keep doing it like that. The point of actually doing this is actually clever. I think there has to be a point where you might want to revisit every two years or something like that. Thinking about intricately making small improvements to that message is really an interesting way of going forward.
Audience Question: How did you pick the cities? Could you describe that again?
Evie Monnington-Taylor: I didn’t get into that. A program isn’t just focused on the police departments. I do also other things within the city. You’ll see in there kind of the handout attached in the webinar that we found work in things like code enforcement or encouraging business to use online services. (indiscernible 1:04:01) to be part of what was the city’s program. Then say got to the process and most of the cities we would work with.
Audience Question: You talked about postcards a number of times in your presentation. Did you ever try email messaging?
Evie Monnington-Taylor: Yeah. One of the examples that I wasn’t able to present due to lack of time was about sending email. In Scottsdale, Arizona where there was a group of people who previously applied to either the city or the Police Department and sent them emails to try to. You know it was a good pool of people to talk to because all of them are somewhat interested in this kind of job because they previously applied and we sent them emails encouraging them to apply. Yes, we have sent out emails. Previously I think the time that we started using postcards was the easiest day to draw (indiscernible1:05:00). A lot of cities already have registered voter data and so you know I was talking about doing a randomized controlled trial. I want to have a large sample of people. It was one of the easiest ways of getting that large sample. I think enough emails can be effective but you just need to know if you have enough email addresses.
Audience Question: Did your research follow the applicants longitudinally through the application process to track retention rates based on that initial message?/ Were people who responded to career or service, were they more likely to complete the process? Did you follow them longitudinally or was it strictly at the beginning level results?
Evie Monnington-Taylor: Absolutely interesting question. We didn’t but that is something that we would really really like to do. I think that is a really good question around like firstly some of our trials we did look whether the quality of the applicants is changing based on the message and we really didn’t see that. We saw that we were attracting apt, good quality candidates through all these messages. It’s been really a good point about retention rates and how successful someone is in their role going forward particularly if you think that when you give messages to encourage people to join an atmosphere or a company or a department where they feel like they might not belong. The question around whether they will be successful in their career is there. You don’t want that to set people up to fail. Really interesting question but we didn’t do that. We really like to do that moving forward in the project.
Audience Question: If you have to boil all this down and point out 3 or 4 things, simple things that agencies should be doing to improve their recruiting and hiring processes, could you boil it down to just three or four things and give some recommendations?
Evie Monnington-Taylor: Yeah I think would headline learning. Tap into those mutual sources of information so think about the messages we used to attract candidates. I would say on the career benefits rather than focusing on the service and social impact messages, that’s the attraction point. The process point is around making that process as easy as possible so people don’t drop out and in case they drop out, get back in contact with them and try to reactivate them. Finally, think about who you are reaching out to. Think about those groups of people who are trying to kind of attract and think about looking some of the ways that you haven’t looked before.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Recruiting a Diverse Police Force.