The Impact of the Work Environment on Prison Staff: The Issue of Consideration, Structure, Job Variety, and Training

American Journal of Criminal Justice 12/2009; 34(3):166-180. DOI: 10.1007/s12103-009-9062-6


Correctional staff are instrumental in ensuring the success of any correctional institution; therefore, investigating how
the work environment impacts correctional workers is essential. To determine the effects of supervisory consideration, supervisory
structure, job variety, and perceptions of training on correctional staff job stress, job satisfaction, and organizational
commitment, data from a survey of staff at a Midwestern private correctional facility were examined. The Ordinary Least Squares
regression results indicate that each of the work environment factors had a significant impact on one or more of the three
outcomes. Specifically, supervisory consideration and perceptions of training decreased job stress. Supervisory consideration,
job variety, and perceptions of training had positive effects on job satisfaction. Finally, supervisory consideration, supervisory
structure, job variety, and perceptions of training had positive relationships with organizational commitment.

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    • "Supervisory structure reflects the perceived degree of structure a supervisor creates for subordinates (House & Dessler, 1974; Teas, 1981). More specifically, it reflects the degree to which a supervisor organizes and directs subordinates in meeting the objectives and goals of the organization (Lambert et al., 2009). It includes holding staff members accountable for their jobs and making sure that the organizational rules and regulations are obeyed. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although correctional staff job burnout is costly to all involved, it has not received the empirical attention it deserves. The job characteristics model holds that job characteristics are important in shaping employee outcomes. This study focused on the effects of the job characteristics of supervision consideration, supervision structure, job autonomy, and job variety on the three dimensions of job burnout (i.e., emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and perceived ineffectiveness at work) among correctional staff. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analysis of data from 160 staff members at a private prison indicated that job autonomy and job variety had significant negative relationships with emotional exhaustion. Supervision consideration, job autonomy, and job variety all had negative effects on the depersonalization dimension of burnout. Job autonomy and job variety had significant negative effects on perceived ineffectiveness.
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