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Work-related wellbeing in UK prison officers: a benchmarking approach

Gail Kinman (Department of Psychology, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK)
Andrew James Clements (Department of Psychology, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK)
Jacqui Hart (Department of Psychology, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 12 September 2016

1428

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the well-being of UK prison officers by utilising a benchmarking approach.

Design/methodology/approach

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Stress Indicator Tool is widely used in the UK to assess key psychosocial hazards in the workplace encompassing demands, control, support from managers and co-workers, relationship quality, role and change management. This study utilises this approach to examine the extent to which a sample of UK prison officers meets the HSE recommended minimum standards for the management of work-related well-being. Levels of mental health and job satisfaction in the sector are also assessed using measures with extensive occupational norms. The psychosocial hazards that make the strongest contribution to mental health and job satisfaction are also considered.

Findings

Respondents reported lower levels of well-being for all of the hazard categories than recommended. Moreover, mental health and job satisfaction were considerably poorer among prison officers than other occupational groups within the emergency and security services in the UK. Considerable variation was found in the psychosocial hazards that predicted mental health and job satisfaction.

Practical implications

The high levels of stressors and strains experienced by UK prison officers gives serious cause for concern. Priority areas for interventions to enhance well-being in the sector are considered and areas for future research discussed.

Originality/value

This study highlights the wide-ranging benefits of a benchmarking approach to investigate work-related stressors and strains at the sector level.

Keywords

Citation

Kinman, G., James Clements, A. and Hart, J. (2016), "Work-related wellbeing in UK prison officers: a benchmarking approach", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 290-307. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-09-2015-0054

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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