Many law enforcement officers have problems managing a healthy work-life balance. This is not surprising given the nature of law enforcement and the personality types that are attracted to careers in law enforcement. The alpha personality and characteristics traits are suited well for law enforcement officers who are responsible for law and order. Some of the characteristics of an alpha personality are confidence, mental toughness, competitive, command presences, strong body language, position themselves, dominant, take chances, vocal, physical, calm under pressure, and perseverance. These same traits that help officers perform efficiently, also influence officer’s attitudes towards long work hours. Not managing a healthy work-life balance can have many negative effects on health and relationships.
Law Enforcement Working Hours
Law enforcement officers work long hours (shifts) assigned to patrol or investigations. Officers also work part-time jobs as private security when they are not on the department clock. The tradition of law enforcement holds officers who work long hours in high regard. The mentality being the harder and longer an officer works the more valuable that officer becomes to the department. It is just not the department scheduling that has officers working fatigued.
Many officers indicated they are forced to work part-time jobs (moon-lighting) to provide financial security for their families. The tradeoff for earning extra income is time away from the spouse and children, and this can build to resentment and relationship problems. Striking a work-life balance can provide financial stability and enhance your personal relationship with spouse and children. Establishing work-life balance can be achieved with open and frequent communicating with your spouse and setting financial and personal goals together.
Benefits of Work-Life Balance:
- Reducing personal stress levels
- Greater focus and concentration
- Higher levels of job satisfaction
- Opportunities to enjoy quality time with family
- Time to pursue personal education goals, hobbies, or leisure activities
- Improved physical and emotional health
- Officer safety by not working fatigued
Creating a Work-Life Balance Plan:
- Setting goals around what you and your spouse value and wish to achieve together
- Manage your time effectively by prioritizing goals
- Create boundaries (control part-time work hours)
- Enhance your emotional intelligence to manage unexpected changes
- Develop a stress management plan that builds resilience while avoiding fatigue by getting proper rest
- Live a healthy lifestyle (make good choices to manage personal stress)
- Create a dependable support system
- Enjoy your work by maintaining a healthy attitude
Creating work-life balance is important to fostering a healthy work attitude and strong personal relationships. A law enforcement officers positive attitude comes from finding and maintaining the balance. It is not easy when many alpha personalities have reported they tend to be workaholics. Creating a supportive and dependable support system is a key element to achieving balance. Learning to manage the things that are within your control is a good start when discussing a personal work-life balance plan that allows you to be at your best.
Do you have a healthy work-life balance?