NIOSH Evaluates Job Stress, Morale among Federal Law Enforcement Employees

Published August 28, 2014

A NIOSH health hazard evaluation (HHE) report published last week details the agency’s response to a request from a union that was concerned about perceived low morale and job stress at a federal law enforcement agency’s district facilities. The request also included concerns about communication problems between employees and the employer.

During the agency’s evaluation, NIOSH staff surveyed employees about job stress, morale, work organization, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, mental health symptoms, and use of sick leave. In addition, NIOSH investigators randomly selected employees to discuss work-related health concerns and communication.

In response to NIOSH’s survey, employees reported that high workloads, unfair treatment, and dissatisfaction with supervisors were contributing factors to moderate job stress and low morale. Employees also stated that they would prefer to receive important information, such as changes in policies or procedures, jointly through meetings and e-mail. And though most employees found management to be approachable, they did not believe their concerns or complaints would be addressed.

NIOSH made several recommendations to the employer to help improve employees’ levels of job satisfaction, morale, performance, and mental health, including:

  • evaluate employee workload distribution to ensure that it’s equitable
  • ask for employees’ input regarding job demands and how they affect job stress and morale
  • explore why some employees reported dissatisfaction with their supervisor
  • improve communication about the response to employees’ concerns

For more information, see NIOSH’s report. Other NIOSH HHE reports are available on the agency’s website.