Recruit Develop and Retain Staff

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Employing staff as technical experts, work coaches and mentors is critical to the overall success of Correctional Industry (CI) programs. The civilian workforce must be forward-thinking; have the capability to accomplish the expectations of the organization today; the capacity to grow and develop with an organization to meet the challenges of tomorrow; and the desire to do both.


Strategic workforce planning is the process of defining organizational strategies and goals for current and future needs, then planning how to recruit and/or develop a workforce that is capable of implementing and achieving the goals.

In order to recruit, retain, and develop staff, a well-organized plan that addresses each element should be developed based on the Strategic Plan. In workforce development planning, strategies and goals are clearly defined and the specific functions are outlined. The plan involves defining the work roles needed for each function, including the number of persons needed in each role, and the competencies required for the successful execution of each role.

CI Training 1Correctional Industries are multi-faceted, operating a business model that provides offenders with education in both technical and soft skills. These skills are essential for a successful transition to the community. CI plays a critical role in the reentry initiatives of a jurisdiction which can be accomplished through the context of work.

CI programs operate through a workforce model of civilian staff and offender workers. The offenders in the program provide the direct labor within the business model. The civilian workforce, working directly with the offenders, is responsible for teaching, coaching and mentoring in an effort to ingrain the newly acquired skills and influence behavioral changes. Successful programs utilize evidence-based training to enhance the work environment through the development of staff skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, active listening, communication and negotiation, will increase productivity, accountability and workforce engagement.

A national survey of U.S. workers, conducted by the Gallup Management Journal in 2006, examined the relationship between engagement and company innovation. Gallop researchers identified three types of employees; not-engaged, actively disengaged, and engaged.

According to the Gallup Management Journal, engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward. Not-engaged employees are essentially “checked-out”. They are sleepwalking through their workday, putting time but not energy or passion into their work. Employees that are actively disengaged are not just unhappy at work; they are busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day these workers undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish.

The survey determined that engaged employees are more likely to:

  • be more productive and profitable
  • create stronger customer relationships
  • stay longer with their employer
  • be a source of creative thinking that can improve management, production, and business processes

CI Training 2

According to research by Audra Bianca, “What constitutes the most important part of employee development?” employee development is something that managers and human resource professionals give much attention to because employees are an organization’s most critical asset. When viewing employees as capital, organizations will invest money, time and other resources in their development. The return on investment expected is simple: the better employees perform, the greater their contributions to the organization resulting in a healthier organization.

Employee development inspires workers to be loyal and produce innovative ideas. When employees are given a chance to sharpen their skills and expand what they know, their fresh, new ideas are invested in the organization. If employees are not challenged, they have few reasons to be creative, imaginative or invest in their work.

Staff should be developed and recognized as assets. A manager should serve as a leader, coach and mentor in order to connect and develop employees. It is vital to develop employees who can teach the skills necessary in order for others to become more effective on the job. 


  1. Conduct Strategic Workforce Planning
    1. Organization Mission/Vision

      Prior to workforce planning an organization should evaluate its mission and vision to ensure they accurately represent the purpose of their existence and their future direction. The mission and vision will guide the direction of the workforce at all levels within the organization.

    2. Organization Values

      The culture of an organization is directly related to its value system. Core values will guide an organization as to the actions and behaviors that are expected. Once the mission and vision have been reviewed, the values should be evaluated to ensure that they will consistently guide staff to act and make decisions in a manner that supports the organizational culture.

    3. Classification System

      A job classification system is a structure for objectively and accurately defining and evaluating the duties, responsibilities, tasks, and authority level of a job/position. There are job families within the structure which identify a series of positions, within the same classification, that are identified by increased levels of responsibility.

      Each position should include a thorough description of job responsibilities, including the knowledge, skills, experience and education required to succeed. This system should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the system reflects accurate responsibilities and expectations.

  2. Identify and Develop Workforce Competencies

    CI programs operate as learning organizations, developing the skill sets within its staff to teach both the technical skills and soft skills to the offender workforce. Training should include identifying and addressing criminogenic risk/needs factors for offenders which are associated with maintaining a gainful attachment to the workforce. Operating a CI organization on the premise “you cannot teach what you do not know” will guide the ongoing development of staff to ensure they are role models for both the civilian and offenders working in the program. Identifying and developing competencies in the following areas will promote a best in class environment:

    1. Skill Set Assessments

      The competencies of the current and projected workforce should be assessed, which may include interests, skills, values and personality. These assessments allow gaps in skill sets to be identified and to gauge organizational compatibility. Options for filling the gaps can be identified and the selected approaches planned, organized and implemented. These alternatives may include reassigning staff to new roles, developing and training current staff, hiring staff with the required competencies and creating new structural opportunities.

    2. Technical Skills

      As a CI navigates the process noted above, having technical experts identified for each position will occur when recruiting and hiring. In the case of current staff or ongoing development, technical skills can be obtained through formal educational institutes, certifying organizations or technical organizations.

    3. Vocational Education/Apprenticeships

      CI programs are enhancing their services by incorporating or collaborating with educational programming, vocational certifications and apprenticeships which tie directly to business operations. These are available through local educational institutes, the U.S. Department of Labor and other local or nationally recognized certifying organizations. As role models to staff and the offender workforce, supervisors leading by example through gaining educational credentials will bring credibility to the program.

    4. Cognitive Behavior Training

      Introducing cognitive behavior training into a CI curriculum addresses criminogenic risk/needs while improving critical thinking skills. It also enhances the work experience by formally reinforcing the soft skills necessary to assist offenders with the coping skills essential to succeed when released. Competencies such as problem solving, critical thinking, decision making, managing conflict, written and verbal communication, and active listening are required for effective performance in many positions. Strengthening these skills will enhance the effectiveness of the civilian workforce as they teach, demonstrate and reinforce these competencies with the offender workforce.

      Programs such as the National Institute of Corrections’ “Thinking for a Change” offer certificates to the master teachers who have demonstrated their capability for facilitating the staff development sessions for those who will be teaching the offenders.

    5. Staff Development

      CI staff are in a unique position because their role is to help individuals see that they can change and provide them with the tools necessary to sustain the change. Sustainable change comes through the ability of one to influence behavior. Ongoing leadership development should focus on the following areas:

      • Influencing changes in behavior
      • Role modeling behavior
      • Decision making strategies
      • Team Building
      • Collaboration
      • Empowering others to innovate and lead
    6. NIC Employment SeriesCI Training 3

      Offender Employability Specialist (OES), Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS), Employment Retention: Principles and Practices, and Offender Employment Retention Specialist (OERS)

      CI staff interacts with the offender workforce a large percentage of the work week and therefore have the ability to influence behavioral changes resulting in gainful attachments to the workforce. By surrounding the offenders with staff members who are certified in several of the National Institute of Corrections’ workforce development training programs, will increase the offenders’ opportunity for success.

      Offender Employment Specialist (OES) training is a compilation of experts’ best and promising practices. It highlights strategies and programs from across the country that have shown proven success in helping offenders obtain career employment. Students will learn:

      • How others initiated job readiness programs for their organizations
      • What successful programs have done to achieve success
      • How to improve existing programs to garner even better results

      Offender Workforce Development Specialist Training is a 180-hour training endorsed by the National Career and Development Association (NCDA) that prepares participants to provide assessments for the offenders in the areas of career interest and personality traits. They will also learn how to prepare the offenders for job seeking and maintaining employability skills, answering the difficult questions in the job interview process, and how to present themselves as a viable candidate for the workforce.

      Employment Retention: Principles and Practices The NIC Offender Employment Retention (OER) Principles and Practices training will provide participants with basic skills for increasing employment retention rates among offenders they serve. The program is designed for individuals who work in correctional institutions, veterans associations, or other community organizations involved in offender re-entry activities.

      OER Principles and Practices training is delivered in a blended format that includes three on-line modules and three days of classroom instruction. Online modules provide basic knowledge of employment retention principles, evidence-based practices, and motivational interviewing. Classroom instruction provides an opportunity to apply newly gained knowledge in a series of group-based activities. In addition to case study scenarios, the training includes role plays and real plays for demonstration and practice of basic MI skills. Individuals who complete the training will be able to:

      • Assess offender needs
      • Identify services available in their community, and
      • Apply evidence-based strategies to improve employment retention.

      CI Training 4Offender Employment Retention Specialist (OERS) Training is a 40-hour competency based course that broadens the ability of participants to develop strategies for change while improving outcomes for justice involved adults through case management and collaborative partnerships. The training builds on the relationship between cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and motivational interviewing (MI) techniques to create a solid foundation for self-exploration - aimed at resolving ambivalence to change.

      Key staff should be trained in and/or certified in the National Institute of Corrections’ Employment Series as well as other recognized soft skills training programs. Ongoing training is recommended to maintain relevance to the field. Additionally all staff should be trained in key elements to gain a working knowledge of the employment series.

      These skills are critical in the day-to-day job of doing business at a correctional worksite and are supported by the skills developed through the cognitive behavior training and motivational interviewing noted in Section 2(c) above.

      National Institute of Corrections (NIC) - CI Leadership Training

      The NIC has developed a comprehensive leadership development program geared for the emerging leaders in the CI field. The program covers topics such as:

      • Dynamic Leadership
      • Managing Stakeholder Network
      • Balancing Internal and External Environments
      • Marketing
      • Assuring Customer Satisfaction
      • Developing an Offender Workforce
      • Reentry Resources
      • Developing Staff Workforce Competencies
      • Ensuring Financial Self-Sufficiency
      • Evaluating Organizational Performance

      This leadership development program focuses on bringing awareness to the competencies needed for the CI leaders of the future.

  3. Integrate Coaching as a Communication and Performance Management Tool

    Introducing a coaching model into a CI program will enhance the overall communication between CI staff and the offender workforce. The premise of ongoing coaching is to gain timely and relevant feedback in order to assist an individual in developing to his/her full potential.  Coaching becomes the model used throughout your CI program and can be used at any level between supervisors and staff members or between staff and offenders. Coaching does not supplant a Performance Management System but rather supplements it with informal ongoing communication geared toward identifying both successes and opportunities for improvement.

    Coaching in any arena, but especially in the CI arena, is a skill set that should be taught and continually reinforced to ensure it is accomplishing the intended result of influencing sustainable change.

    Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change. It is outlined in Motivational Interviewing, Third Edition: Helping People Change (Applications of Motivational Interviewing) William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, The Guildord Press New York 2013

  4. Implement Performance Management System

    A performance management system should provide employees with

    • A clear understanding of job expectations
    • Ongoing feedback about performance
    • Advice and steps for improving performance
    • Rewards for good performance

    The goal of a performance management system is to help improve employee performance and ultimately the productivity of the business.

    Performance management consists of a continuous dialog between supervisors and their workforce in order to set goals and expectations, monitor progress, provide feedback, develop opportunities for improvement and evaluate progress. Competency-based performance management focuses on assessing and rewarding both how work is done (process) and the goals achieved (the outcomes). Team members are aware of the competencies needed to achieve those goals and emphasis is placed on providing ongoing coaching and feedback.

    For it to be effective, a performance management system should incorporate the following critical elements:

    • updated job descriptions
    • performance measures
    • workplace standards
    • evaluation methods
    • a reward/recognition system

    In the CI work environment both staff and offenders should receive ongoing feedback through a formal performance management system.

  5. Employ Succession Planning

    The objective of succession planning is to ensure that well-qualified and motivated employees are prepared to assume each critical position when it becomes vacant. The competencies needed for each critical position are identified during the job classification process. This information is used to identify and rank employees with high potential for succeeding in each position.

    Including individuals in progressive training and engaging them in creative, innovative processes will promote the motivation for advancing in the organization. As leaders, it is necessary to role model, coach and support individual development.

  6. Train staff on facility safety and security in CI operations.
    Train staff to focus on facility safety and security procedures in CI operations. Safety and/or security breaches impact both the facility and CI which can result in harm to staff, offenders and the general public as well as damage CI’s relationship and credibility with the facility. In addition, these breaches can lead to loss of production and an inability to fulfill the requirements of customers. Continual training, reminders, and an overall workplace awareness will assist staff in maintaining this focus.

    CI staff must be trained on DOC safety and security policies in addition to CI-specific safety and security practices and policies.
  7. Obtain compliance verification in conjunction with your Department of Corrections or through external sources.
    • Human Resource Audits
    • Security Audits
    • Safety and Environmental Audits
    • ACA Audits
    • PREA Audits


  • Average Tenure of Employees
  • Days to Fill Open Position
  • Employee Engagement Surveys
  • Offender Workforce Engagement Surveys
  • Performance Evaluation System
  • Recidivism
  • Staff Turnover Rate



Bianca, Audra. What Constitutes the Most Important Part of Employee Development? Chron.

Demand Media.

Gallup Management Journal. (2006). Gallup Study: Engaged Employees Inspire Company Innovation. Available at

Kouzes, J. M., & Barry Z. Posner. (2003). Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kouzes, J. M., & Barry Z. Posner. (2008). Leadership Challenge. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lagan, Ph.D. Timothy and Barton, Ph.D. Margaret and Holloway-Lundy, M.S.  Anne.  Workforce and Succession Planning for Mission Critical Occupations. Center for Talent Service (CTS).  United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Marrelli, A. (2001). Introduction to Competency Modeling. New York: American Express.

Marrelli, A. (2001). How to Implement Performance Improvement Step-by-Step. In M Silberman (Ed.), The consultant’s toolkit: 45 high-impact questionnaires, activities, and how-to guides for diagnosing and solving client problems (pp. 210–218). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Minter, R. L. & Thomas, E. G.  (2000). Employee Development through Coaching, Mentoring and Counseling: A Multidimensional Approach.  Review of Business, 21(1/2), 43-47. National Institute of Health (NIH) Workplace Planning Instructional Guide

O’Tool, J. & Lawler III, E.E. (2006). The New American Workplace. Palgrave (Society for Human Resource Management), Macmilliam.

Simonsen, P. (1997). Promoting a Development Culture in Your Organization: Using Career Development as a Change Agent. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing. 

Society for Human Resource Management:

ACA Standards
National Institute of Corrections
Achieving Performance Excellence (APEX)

CI Models that have Data to Support Success

TRICOR – Tennessee Correctional Industries The Coaching Revolution – The Seven Decisions Offender Workforce Development Specialists Contact:  Director of Learning and Development 615-741-5705

PEN Products – Indiana Correctional Industries Apprenticeship Programs – U.S. Department of Labor Offender Workforce Development Specialists Contact: Director, PEN Products 317-955-6800