Staffing Shortage: What We're Doing and How You Can Help

Message to Staff: July 13, 2018

DOC Staff:

As you all know, we as a corrections family face staff shortages in all areas of the department and in all parts of the state. Vacancies are especially high in our corrections officer ranks, resulting in overtime hours and overworked staff. Days off are hard to come by, and typical 40-hour work weeks are rare.

As part of the department’s strategic plan, we have been implementing initiatives designed to improve the workplace, boost retention and attract new officers. Here are some of our recruitment efforts:

  • Active recruiting on social media
  • Targeted digital ads on cell phone apps and browsers
  • Reinstatement of the recruitment incentive for staff (coming soon!)
  • Staff video testimonials and profiles
  • Billboards in targeted areas
  • New dedicated employee recruitment positions (part-time retired warden and full-time major) for the northwest region
  • COI apprenticeship program for high school students, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education and the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Recruitment of returning and retired military personnel, in partnership with the Office of the Military Advocate and Fort Leonard Wood
  • Possible employment partnership with the Missouri National Guard
  • Missouri State Government LinkedIn presence and establishment of MODOC recruiting page
  • Reduction of the offender population at prisons with the lowest staffing: WMCC and CRCC in Cameron and NECC in Bowling Green
  • Training program to enable probation and parole staff to work shifts as custody officers
  • Coming soon: New timekeeping system that empowers staff to manage schedules electronically, streamlining overtime tracking, FMLA, and other functions while maximizing supervisor time

We are all in this together, and to alleviate our staffing problem we have to work together. With that in mind, I have some requests. My first request is that you try to participate in the recruitment incentive when we reinstate it. Successful participants earn extra pay for themselves and help support fellow officers. If you referred someone during the lag period, we will still count it, and you will be paid for your referral.

My second request is that you seriously think about the impact your social media activity has on the department and on your co-workers. Think before you make a negative post about the department. Think before you like or share such a post. These type of posts hurt morale, which hurts retention. They spread discontent. They compromise our safety. They are, at times, misleading or inaccurate and are counterproductive to the recruitment of new staff. We are working very hard to make this a department that everyone is proud to be a part of. Our success depends on all of us working together.

My third and final request is that you remember how you felt as a new employee.  Whether you are a frontline staff member or a supervisor, please welcome new employees and make them feel like part of the team. I often hear from new staff members that they are treated like outsiders. If you witness this kind of negative treatment, please address it or talk to your administration. We simply cannot expect to retain staff if they feel unwelcome or are treated poorly while at work.

Pay increases are a part of this equation as well. My team and I worked hard with elected officials to get a pay raise for corrections staff this year, despite a tight budget. As I have been saying, this approved wage increase is only the first step in my goal to obtain substantial pay increases for all of our staff.  I think it is important to note, since 2009 this will be the largest pay increase for staff earning less than $35,000 per year.  I sincerely appreciate all of you who recognize this as the first step. I will continue to work hard on pay raises for the great employees of this department.

Thank you all for what you do each day. Please be safe.

Sincerely,

Anne L. Precythe
Director