Police wellbeing could be improved through good change management, report finds

New research from the Police Foundation shows that improving the way police forces manage change could have a significant impact on police workforce wellbeing in the UK.

The Police Foundation spoke to senior leaders and experts within policing and looked at the evidence on change management.  It found that despite pressures on public sector workers such as austerity and high workloads, wellbeing could be significantly improved if employees have a direct say on the changes made within their organisation and how these are managed.

The Police Federation’s survey on pay and morale (2017 and 2018) found that the second most common reason for poor officer morale was ‘the management of change within the police. With only 6% of police officers agreeing that change was managed well in their force, the Police Foundation today presents four recommendations for police leaders:

–  The College of Policing should adopt a clear set of principles to guide change management across the police service.

–  Chief Constables should promote change management across the local public sector so that whole system is equipped to deal with complex and rapidly changing problems.

–   A specialist change management team within the College of Policing should build knowledge and a practitioner network.

–  Changes should be made to outdated rank structures so that the police service can experiment with flatter management structures.

The Police Foundation’s research found many examples of the successful change management (known as ‘Organisational Development ‘) across the whole public sector.  While Organisational  Development is much less developed in policing, it found some clear examples of good practice; for example Lancashire Constabulary is using internal online forums to democratise decision making through staff engagement and ‘recharge days’ are made available to all officers and staff.

The Police Foundation’s director Rick Muir said “In recent years the police service has been through a period of significant change: losing 20% of its money and 20% of its workforce at a time when demands upon it have changed radically. While austerity is clearly a significant factor in explaining low morale within the service, the good news is that how change is managed, unlike austerity, is something the police service can control’.

For more information, contact the Police Foundation on 020 3752 5630 or .

Notes to editors:

The Police Foundation’s report Police workforce wellbeing and organisational development, funded by the Police Mutual Foundation is published today.

The report looks at the potential of the field of research and practice known as Organisational Development, an applied professional practice that focuses on how organisations can systematically enable good performance through involvement of the entire workforce. It encourages organisations to constantly change and evolve and for programmes of change to involve the full and willing engagement of employees.