The younger generations (Gen Y and Gen Z) generally come into the profession with an understanding, and an expectation, that there is life outside of the job, and life after the job. They want to maintain their friends outside of the agency as well as their hobbies and activities. Lets celebrate this and build on this instead of trying to break them of this.
Maintaining friends and acticities outside the job and not wrapping their entire sense of self around their job role is healthy. Kevin Gilmartin has been talking about this for two decades through his book Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement and his presentations around North America.
Wanting their time off to be spent with friends and family and in outside activities and not jumping at every overtime opportunity and extra job posting does not mean they are not dedicated to the job. It does mean they are more likely to be healthy physically, psychologically and emotionally throughout their careers and into retirement.
The literature on Generation Y suggests they have been raised not to be blindly loyal to organizations. They are however, loyal to good supervisors and to their peers.
For years trainers have been warning law enforcement professionals about the dangers of wrapping their entire identify in the “cop role”, and that they need to have friends and activities outside of the job. Many of us in the profession, even those who taught this message, did not listen well enough to this message.
We now have generations of people coming into the profession who understand this right from the start, and yet I hear people across North America complaining that the new generations are not dedicated to the job “like in the old days”. Some in the profession are trying working to break them of something we should be celebrating.
Stop the madness. We need to change the mindset and the culture of the profession for the benefit of everyone. This starts with you as trainers and leaders. It starts at the Academy and builds through FTO / PTO and is reinforced throughout their careers.
Yes, there is a time when we need people to come in on their time off due to serious staffing shortages, a critical incident or a major event. If you treat people well and lead them well they will come in when you need them to.
Consistently working 70, 80 or 100 hour weeks is not a sign you are dedicated to the job. It is the path to burn out. Trust me on this.
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