Sunday, January 11, 2009

Work Negativity

This is a common topic found on dispatcher, and even officer, blogs. Negativity at the work place. Negativity against co-workers. Recently at my work place it has really gotten out of hand.

So to better deal with the problem, though I know part of the problem is the lack of support from supervisors who play for their favorites, I did a little research and found this list of the top five causes of employee negativity. This is a survey from 1,100 employees and 300 senior human resources executives.

An Excessive Workload

Our workload is ever flexing and ever changing. Most of us seem to deal with manpower shortages and lots of overtime. Agency after agency has seen an increase of criminal activity and thus additional demand on our limited resources. Also with this cold and wet season, lots of people calling in sick. Just finishing the holiday seasons, too, when people love to call in sick because they want the time off to share with families. Only adds to the workload we are already handle every shift.

Our workload entails listening and problem solving people/callers problems for 8-15 hours at a time. Day in, day out. We hear and are exposed to trauma and drama on a constant basis.

Concerns About Management's Ability to Lead

This is where we as employees don't trust our supervisors. Most of us don't feel that our supervisors are truly looking out for our best interests, but just reinforcing the brass' dictates. And the brass doesn't give us in dispatch more thought than they have to.

Anxiety About The Future, Particular Longer Term, Income & Retirement Security

Now, up until a month ago I would have said, this is not one of our notable stress indicators. Once you've passed your probation, in a Civil Service job, you are pretty much set. It is really hard to get rid of people in civil service. Takes lots of documentation and sessions/meetings.

But recently, Cities and Counties are releasing sworn and non-sworn personnel. They are cutting back, hiring freezes, and even demoting some brass to save monies. Never thought I would see this event.

So that means income and our retirement system changes. Heck, in more than one state the Governor has "raided" the employee retirement systems to help offset some of the state's debts.

Lack of Challenge In Their Work, w/ Boredom Intensifying Existing Frustration About Workload

Okay, this is not one of our problems in law enforcement. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is the constant challenges and changes and flexibility we must flex with every phone call or every shift on radio that intensifies work stress and negativity. Think of it, if you're constantly being subjected to negativity and despair, don't you start to absorb it?

Insufficient Recognition For The Level Of Contribution And Effort Provided

One of the reasons listed for workload anxiety is "insufficient recognition for the level of contribution and effort provided". Boy, ain't this the truth. Dispatch is the ugly step child in a police department and gets the shaft so much of the time. And overlooked by officers and brass when an individual makes any extra effort. Just told you're doing your job.

"This is a snapshot of causes of employee negativity. If you can eliminate these five, you have gone a long way in the direction of building a positive, supportive work environment. You’ve minimized the potential for employee negativity."

Well, you would think that since all of us have to deal with the same five issues in the same small work area (most behind locked doors and many without the benefit of windows) we would be drawn and able to work as a team better and more uniformingly. Because of our united purposes and goals and problems, we should be moving in a more harmonious direction. Instead, we seem to turn on each other and bicker over everything and anything.

We complain to our supervisors and we bad mouth each other to our co-horts (notice I don't write co-workers). We don't relieve when we should those people we don't like. We don't acknowledge them or their greeting when issued. We snark and sabotage.

Like the job isn't stressful enough.

Above information was obtained from web address:


The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

I truely feel that some co-workers (I like co-horts) just don't want to be happy. And don't want others to be happy! They nit pick everything they can to tear the happy people down! We lost someone today to another city department because she didn't like the negativity working down here.. She took a 800.00 cut in pay just to get out! That says a lot!
Sad too, cause she was a wonderful person!

Us happy people need to ban together!! Heheheh at least to go get donuts!

Scott Pantall said...

Nice post. I like how you related each post to the job.

I can think of 2 more things off the top of my head that help foster negativity in dispatch.

Lack of Control: When something is broken or misconfigured at work, usually the only way to get it fixed is to complain about it even if you have the skill to fix it yourself. When it doesn't get fixed soon, you complain about it more and more. Then you get so used to complaining, you just start complaining about everything else.

Lack of Communications: It's funny how even though most of us work in a "communications" center there's a huge lack of communcation between management and line personnel. Not funny-haha, funny-sad.

Christopher said...

For the record, I could never do your job. I wouldn't have the patience to put up with what dispatchers do, all while being stuck inside a room.

We have combined dispatch where I work. The other cities that share the airwaves have been known to have running arguments with dispatch over the air. While the guys will always have minor complaints about dispatch (as cops we have complaints about everything), we demand respect for that position of dispatcher. It works out great because it's reciprocated, and you can tell our more positive relationship just by tone of voice between the two sides.

All that to say, thanks for what you put up with.

Aunt Zee said...

I think I would like to blow this up, frame it and put it on my locker. Dang...that hit the nail on the head!

tired.dispatcher said...

I must saw, wow... seemed to have hit a sore point. In reply to your wonderful comments::

Dispatcher - What a shame that a co-worker had to take another job with such a huge cut in pay just to get away from the negativity within your dispatch center. Wonder if she told your supervisors at her exit interview and they took notice. And no donuts for me, thank you.

Scott - You brought up two very valid points. Not being permitted to fix something that one has the ability to because it is City property is very frustrating and does take lots of complaining to get fixed. And the lack of communication between the brass and front line is a problem, especially when the front line has no input for the changes and demands the brass makes upon them.

Christopher - How lucky you are that your dispatch center and officers get along so well. And you're not the first officer to comment on they happiness and relief not to be doing our job.

Aunt Zee - Your comments made me laugh. Probably not the only dispatching unit to see themselves in my own dispatching units problems.

Kaden said...

This would be a good article to print and share with our supervisors. Sounds just like our agency. At least our retirement hasn't been hit up to pay bills as we are not part of the state retirement fund like many agencies, and our Governor has dipped into that fund to pay off California's bills.

FireMidget said...

I think that some people feed on the negativity of the callers and when they don't get enough they make negativity.

copswife said...

I'm not a dispatcher but I think firemidget has a point. All the bad stuff happening all the time is bound to suck a person in. My husband and I were just talking about this, as a cop he sees a small percentage of the population at the worst times in their lives. So he starts to fall into the facacy that MOST people are like that, when I think it's the other way around - MOST people conduct their lives quietly, without drama.

CM said...

I have learned that the more questions that I ask that are rational and common sense questions tend to get me more in trouble with my bosses... Today for example I know I will be speaking with the supv sgt regarding a matter I stumbled into and should have stayed the heck out of.... Each day we pick up the phone answer the radio is a new lesson in life.... I've found it's what gets me thru it....

Cpdcoppurr said...

GREAT POST!!!!!!!!! WOW you nailed it....... We now have to turn the negatives into a positive for US. And stop them from doing all this stuff.

I am tired of it as everyone else is here.

Thanks again for posting

And thanks for doing the job! I know it is a difficult one from all aspects. And i thanked my God everynight when i turned on my radio and heard "our girls" dispatching jobs. We knew we were safe through our tour, for they had our backs, when the shit hit the fan and knew what to do and how to do it.

One Time said...

I got stressed out just reading this post.