Organizational stressors are stressful conditions which the organization and/or its leaders have control over. Meanwhile, operational stress refers to conditions inherent in the job and are part of day-to-day work. According to numerous research, of these two, organizational stressors have the greatest impact on health and well‐being. This session dissects organizational stress, how it is defined and measured, and the research conducted to better understand it in hopes of mitigating it.
Leading the discussion are Karen Amendola and Maria Valdovinos Olson. Karen has been with the National Policing Institute for over 25 years where she currently serves as the Chief Behavioral Scientist. Meanwhile, Maria is a Senior Research Associate at the National Policing Institute specializing in the areas of safety, health, and wellness issues within policing and corrections.
Specifics covered in their presentation include:
- An overview of the National Policing Institute, its inception, mission, strategic priorities, and research focus.
- Differentiating operational from organizational stress, and why organizational stress is seen to have a greater impact on individuals in the law enforcement profession.
- Defining organizational stress and specific stress components that are not as clearly defined whether they fall under organizational or operational.
- Factors that contribute to the greater impact of organizational stress on officer wellness.
- Organizational stressors are often unexpected and not part of officers’ training.
- Lack of awareness and training on organizational stressors.
- Inability by leaders to address these despite being within the organization’s control.
- A perception of being unnecessary and are only meant to hamper officers’ ability to perform their duties effectively.
- Challenges in measurement posed by delineating between organizational and operational stressors.
- A look into the two studies that aimed to measure organizational stress,
- The Police Stress Questionnaire (PSQ), what it defined specifically as organizational stress items, and what can both be operational and organizational stress.
- The Police Daily Hassles and Uplifts Scale that found organizational stressors to impact employee job satisfaction and quality of life, and the organizational stress items it identified.
- How organizational stress must be addressed on both the individual and organizational levels as it doesn’t only impact the employees but the agencies as well.
- The study led by the NPO and NIJ titled “Adverse Impacts of Organizational Stress on Officer Health and Wellness: Causes, Correlates, and Mitigation.”
- Its goals, research model, sources of data, and sampling.
- The analysis done to test hypothesized relationships, pathways to various outcomes, and factors to mitigate the impact of organizational stress.
- Preliminary results of the pilot study from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office as it relates to…
- How the study allowed to test data collection protocols and refine the conceptual model.
- The value of strong supervisory support and internal procedural justice in reducing organizational stress.
- How organizational stress leads to anxiety, burnout, sleep-related impairment, and worse health outcomes.
- The benefits associated with developing the adaptive coping skills of officers.
- Things that the study still aims to accomplish as it relates to…
- Identifying mitigation strategies through focus group discussions and feedback reports.
- Providing insights on the link between organizational stressors and officer wellness.
- Using information gleaned from the study to address recruitment, retention, and promotion issues for law enforcement.
Points raised during the Q&A are about:
- The elements of “climate” that contribute to organizational stress.
- How legislative changes can create organizational stressors for staff as well as leadership.
- What internal procedural justice is.
- Whether civilian staff’s feedback is captured in the study.
- Whether organizational stress is part of the organizational culture.
- The biggest source of organizational stress.
- How managerial training can help address organizational stress.
- How employee age and tenure can impact their level of organizational stress and morale.
Other Webinars with this Organization
- Feb 23: Not Just Feeling Words: How Victim Services Can Lead to Success in Law Enforcement
- May 11: Preventing Targeted Violence: An Introduction to Threat Assessment
- May 16: Long Work Hours, Shift Schedules, and the Impact on Law Enforcement Personnel
- June 22: Rural Violent Crime Reduction Initiative: Diminishing Crime, One Community at a Time
- Oct 24: Inclusive Recruiting: Practical Guidance for Reaching More Women Applications
- Nov 7: Organizational Stress and Officer Wellness (this webinar)
- Dec 14: The Law Enforcement Knowledge Lab: A Critical Resource for Your Agency
Resources and Handouts
- “I am currently getting my MS in Human Resource Development so I spend a lot of time thinking about and talking about Organizational Development as a whole. I loved this entire webinar and it has my wheels turning for continuing this conversation more in the future as well as studies to come or where this can go. The presenters were both incredibly knowledgeable and kept my interest the entire time. Wonderful job!”
- “I’m not in a police agency, but I am in a protective services agency (adult) and the issues are the same, and now I have a term I can use to define the stress we feel that isn’t directly our job, but what the agency itself causes without realizing it. For example the training of supervisors, we are working on creating it now. And that we teach around the mission or vision of the agency is, without actually talking about how we are going to achieve it internally.”
- “The whole webinar had very valuable information that I enjoyed today. There are no additional feedback ideas for new topics at this time.”
- “It was interesting to learn the many descriptions of stress. Some things are stressors to some but not all.”
- “Excellent project.”
- “The study is fascinating. I can’t wait for the results!”
About the National Policing Institute: Formerly known as the National Police Foundation, the National Policing Institute’s mission is to pursue excellence in policing through innovation and science. It is the oldest nationally-known, non-profit, non-partisan, and non-membership-driven organization dedicated to improving America’s most noble profession – policing.
The National Policing Institute has been on the cutting edge of police innovation for over 50 years since it was established by the Ford Foundation as a result of the President’s Commission on the Challenge of Crime in a Free Society (1967) and the related conclusions of the Kerner and Eisenhower Commissions, taking place during the same era.