Case Study.

Correctional Officer Assessment Strategy

Public Sector Law Enforcement Agency Client

The Public Sector Client EPSI worked with is responsible to ensure that Ontario’s communities are supported and protected by law enforcement and public safety systems that are safe, secure, effective, efficient, and accountable. The Law Enforcement Agency has jurisdiction over five main areas: correction services, public safety and security, policing services, animal welfare and anti-racism directorate.


The Issue

The Law Enforcement Agency undertook a modernization review of correctional services job competencies in 2018, to set core competencies for the recruitment and retention of correctional officers. The human resources advisors responsible for the selection processes noted some key issues in their staffing processes, including but not limited to the psychometric assessments used, the minimum age and educational requirements, the difficulty in retaining new hires, the difficulty in determining whether hires had any unconscious biases (i.e., racial biases), recruiting candidates from various employment equity groups, specifically Aboriginals/First Nations/Métis/Inuit peoples, and recruiting candidates for work in northern and remote regions.

The Solution

We relied on a consultation exercise with key stakeholders: correctional officers, managers, HR representatives, and the deputy minister. By way of a screening strategy questionnaire comprised of 12 questions, we obtained feedback on the following areas: background information, education, competencies, assessment tools, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Along with a thorough review of the available scientific literature on the same topics (i.e., cognitive skills assessments, personality assessments, assessing for unconscious biases, assessing for resilience, integrity, etc.), we provided a list of recommendations, including various opportunities for improvement for the Law Enforcement Agency’s selection process.

The Benefits

  • Consultations with key stakeholders.
  • Establishing short, moderate, and long-term recommendations.
  • Assessing the standardized tests currently used and identifying any gaps, overlaps, and concerns, and providing opportunities for improvement.
  • Modernizing the competency profile and structured interview protocol.
  • Increasing the retention rate of new hires and targeting candidates from employee equity groups.
Why We Were Involved

From the start, the Human Resources Department for the Law Enforcement Agency Client demonstrated an interest in renewing their recruitment process that would ensure a stronger retention rate, a careful assessment of the current standardized psychometric tests used, an option for evaluating various competencies such as unconscious biases, resiliency and integrity, and on a way to close the gap in terms of age and educational requirements and hiring individuals who self-identified as part of one (or more) employee equity groups. To reach this goal, a reflection and a consultation process on the organizational needs, values, and concerns were completed, followed by a thorough scientific literature review.

How Did We Help

The primary stakeholders participated in a series of consultations, where essential information was obtained on the values, needs, and concerns that the organization faced in terms of their hiring processes. Then, two consultants analyzed the screening strategy questionnaires that were shared, and common themes were extracted within the stakeholder group. In addition, four consultants completed a scientific literature review on these same themes, more specifically on cognitive skills assessments, personality assessments, assessments for unconscious biases and other related competencies, such as resiliency and integrity, adverse impacts, age and educational requirements, maturity levels, etc. A 56-page report was submitted to the client identifying EPSI’s findings and recommendations.

How Did Things Change

Based on the 56-page report, the Law Enforcement Agency of the Public Sector may be able to:

  • Identify the short, moderate, and long-term recommendations, such as establishing partnerships with postsecondary institutions and offering an internship component to help recruit skilled candidates for a correctional officer position. These partnerships may also allow the Law Enforcement Agency to have a word in how the curriculum is designed so that the courses better reflect the correctional landscape and the required knowledge and competencies to exercise such a role.
  • Close the gap in terms of age and educational requirements and maturity levels.
  • Recruit more members from various employee equity groups, specifically Aboriginal/First Nations/Métis/Inuit peoples.
  • Increase the retention rate of new hires.
  • Mitigate or eliminate some key concerns raised during the consultation phase (i.e., recruiting more French-speaking candidates, having a more realistic pass rate on their personality assessments, ensuring that the standardized tests are appropriate and that the psychometric properties are sufficiently robust, recruiting more candidates for the Northern or remote regions, improving the salary and benefits package for new hires, ensuring proper work-life balance for new hires, supporting employee mental health and wellness, etc.)
  • Establish a new competency model.
  • Modernize their structured interview protocol and include video submissions, thus extending the candidate pool to individuals residing outside the province of Ontario.
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