Garda job satisfaction high but work pressures still abound
The culture audit was performed by Durham University in England under commission from An Garda Síochána, and was responded to by 6,400 Garda personnel. It is the second of its kind, following on from the 2017/18 audit that was carried out by PricewaterhouseCooper and responded to by 6,500 personnel.
Entitled Your Voice, Our Future, the findings of the survey show a police force that is largely satisfied with its work, believes in the competence of the force, and is motivated to “serve communities and protect people from harm”, but also found a force struggling with fatigue, low emotional energy, and a perceived lack of organisational fairness and justice.
Emotional energy of Gardaí was found by the survey to be at a “moderately low average level”, but a “moderate average level” for Garda staff. Emotional energy is found to be influenced by feelings of competence, autonomy, and relatedness at work, and while both Gardaí and Garda staff reported competence, autonomy, and relatedness at moderately high levels with small-to-medium differences in the two strands, emotional energy in total was reported to be, on average, lower than all three constituent aspects, with a medium size difference caused by Garda staff reporting higher emotional energy on average than Gardaí. 51.2 per cent of Garda respondents indicated high levels of fatigue, compared to 43.6 per cent of Garda staff; 16.5 per cent and 13.3 per cent respectively reported very high levels.
Despite these fatigue levels, job satisfaction was reported at moderately high average levels among Gardaí and high average levels among Garda staff, with prosocial motivation and high performance expectations from supervisors reported at high levels by both strands. A large gap was found in the ability of the two strands to psychologically detach from their work when not working, with Gardaí reporting moderately low average levels of detachment and staff reporting moderately high levels.
In terms of values and ethics, the report found that on average, individuals in An Garda Síochána believe that their own personal values align with the Garda Code of Ethics. Positively, low levels of moral disengagement – the suspension of morals – were reported. However, Garda staff reported higher levels of perceived organisational fairness than Gardaí themselves, with Gardaí reporting a low average perception of fairness within the organisation.
In response to the findings, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris stated: “We will now analyse these findings in-depth and conduct focus groups to gain further insights on particular areas. Based on this, we will introduce measures to address the issues raised by Garda personnel in the 2022 Garda Culture Audit.”