Morale is one of the biggest complaints in the emergency communications business. The job is stressful. The hours are long. The work can be sedentary and boring, or it can be overwhelming. Employees work bizarre shifts while still trying to maintain a life away from the department and include a bit of time for their families, and maybe themselves. For all these reasons, it is important that supervisors recognize an employee doing a good job. Many departments have established rituals like the Employee of the Month, but if my former employer's record is any indication of other departments, the board had huge gaps when nobody was nominated. Knowing the exemplary work my peers did, I don't believe this was due to no one qualifying for recognition. Having a supervisor say you do a good job can lead to a positive work environment.
Another important aspect about employee recognition is to make sure the employees know when they're recognized. Recently, a police communications operator was reviewing her personnel file and was surprised to find a myriad of commendations and letters of appreciation she had received over her career. She didn't even know she had many of these. This is unfortunate, because the writer took the time to get these letters of recognition approved and would not be happy knowing their gratitude and recognition were shoved into the receiver's file without presentation. Recognition isn't any good if it is silent. Operators need to know when they do well.
If you are a supervisor, recognize your employees. Tell them when they do something right or are performing well. Advise them when someone else, whether a peer, a supervisor, or a patrol officer, recognizes them. Encourage your employees to recognize each other and let you know when someone does something worth praising. An increase in positive reinforcement could mean the difference between an average employee and one maximizing their potential.
If you are an operator, do your job well. Insist on a work place which includes recognition. If you do something worthwhile, nominate yourself for recognition if you have to. Check your personnel records; you might find a letter of commendation you didn't know you had. Encourage field units and supervisors to speak up when you and your peers excel. Let a supervisor know when a co-worker does something well. A positive atmosphere with mutual respect and recognition can be one of the best places to work.
When a communications operator does something wrong, people will hear about it. Headlines will remind every public servant how easy it is to make a poor decision and end up disciplined, fired, or worse. Every conversation with internal and external customers is a chance to make a personal and professionally devastating mistake. Every action outside of the work place also holds the possibility of ruining a reputation and career. But, more times than not, operators are not behaving badly and making the news. Usually, they are doing an exceptional job and being ignored.