After the Webinar: The 7 Keys to Personal Resilience and Job Retention. Q&A with John Shuford

Webinar presenter John Shuford answered a number of your questions after his presentation, The 7 Keys to Personal Resilience and Job Retention. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: John, we’ve heard about the crisis of suicide among law enforcement officers. It sounds like what you’re saying is, is that we’re seeing that same rate or increase of suicide among correctional officers as well? 

John A. Shuford: That is true. And one of the things that bothers me a lot is what agencies will often say is, “Well, we need to increase recruitment.” Well, what’s more important is retention. They say, “Well, the way we deal with morale is we’ll give higher pay and better benefit,” but what that does is it can literally put officers in a bind. They get to the point where the work culture is killing them. But they can’t leave. Because I can’t get the same kind of pay and benefits at another job. So, I’m forced to stay, and that can actually, and has been shown in the Massachusetts study, to contribute to suicide. So, yes, suicide is a significant problem. And unless we deal with the work culture, is probably going to continue being so. So, yes, I don’t have the statistics in Corrections, I’m not sure there’s been research done on that, but we know that it’s a very significant problem.


Audience Question: John, picking up on what you just touched on. You talked about when we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For the most part, our physical needs are being met through our employers, such as the food, safety, shelter, because of our salaries. However, if the cost of living is extremely high, or is continuing to increase, as it is in many parts of the United States, our agency’s salaries aren’t necessarily keeping up. So, can we say that our officers, physical needs are being met, and, perhaps, more importantly, what can we do about it? 

John A. Shuford: That’s really the challenge that officers are not paid what they should be paid. There’s no question about that, and that’s partly because the community takes them for granted. Correctional officers, as well as law enforcement officers. So,  increased, benefits, and income, that’s important, I never said that wasn’t important, that is important. If I’m not making enough money to meet my needs for my family, that increases the stress. That definitely increases the stress.


Audience Question: John, just to be clear, these tips for resilience and to combat size social isolation, could be used by any part of the criminal justice system, correct? It’s not just corrections. Anybody could use these tips. 

John A. Shuford: Bingo, in education, in health care, in hospitals, all of these issues, it can impact everybody. Because this isn’t just increasing resilience among correctional officers and law enforcement. It’s increasing it for human beings, so everybody can benefit from it.


Audience Question: Does meditation count if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes, does it have to be a long time? 

John A. Shuford: Anytime is good, 20 minutes is the best, because then you really get into settling down and lowering your metabolism. But if you can do it for 5 or 10 minutes, do it. The point is to take time, focus on your breathing, and if that’s all the time you got, that’s all the time you’ve got and that’s what you do. It’ll be a benefit. No question about that. It’s like exercise, Well, I can exercise for half an hour, I can only exercise for like 15 minutes. Well, do it. That will be of value. May not be quite as much value as exercising for one and a half hours, but it still is of value.


Audience Question: John, you talked about the importance of exercise. Can it be as simple as just walks or does it have to be something super high-impact? 

John A. Shuford: It does not have to be super high impact. But if you walk, walk at a fast pace, I used to jog for years. And there was this woman who did fast walk. And I could not keep up with her doing the fast walk. So walking, if this is a Sunday afternoon, kind of a leisure walk, that’s good, because you’re outside being a nature that does help, especially if you’re walking through a forest or wood or something like that. The main thing is you increase your heartbeat. So, whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be high impact. It can just be increasing your heartbeat for 20 minutes or so. That’s where the benefit comes from.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of The 7 Keys to Personal Resilience and Job Retention.


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