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Asset Integrity
By William Daly , CPM, CCE, CJM, co authored by Margeret Heffernan
Published: 09/13/2010

What is “asset integrity”? From a manufacturing standpoint, it really means protecting critical plants and machinery from damage, wear and tear. This is a top priority.

But what about service industries, such as the field of Corrections? Companies where the largest asset are the brains of their employees. Shouldn’t we be concerned about asset integrity, too?
  • Do we instead perceive working long hours as heroic?
  • How many of you are working all that overtime, mandatory or not?
  • How about administrators who are driving while conducting business as the norm?
  • Anyone skip lunch thinking this will minimize the risks of becoming lunch, especially in the midst of an economic downturn?
  • The argument can be made we all should be working as hard as we can?
  • Who has the luxury of time?
  • What do you mean weekends aren’t for working?

Every productivity study in every industry has come to the same conclusion: after about 40 work hours in a week, the quality of your work starts to degrade. Yes, there are many times that you are faced with mandatory overtime but there are also equal amounts of instances where you are volunteering for those long hours.

In the long run, is working more really a benefit of time and money for the individual or the department you work for? Do we spend too much of those extra hours we work fixing the mistakes that shouldn’t have made to begin with? Or even worse are we endangering someone’s life because of fatigue?

In a knowledge economy, where thinking and creativity are the raw materials from which products and profit flow, brains and actions are the assets to law enforcement. They need to be cherished, nurtured and protected, not abused. Burnout is what happens when people are asked to work in ways that obliterate all other parts of their personal lives. We have all been there, working overtime upon overtime, to pay off that boat, house, car, vacation or simply trying to make ends meet pay check to pay check.

Administrators, I need to hammer the last nail into the coffin on multi-tasking. No, you can’t safely drive and hold conference calls, nor can you text while driving. Furthermore, checking emails while in meetings means you may as well not be there. What modern businesses need isn’t distracted Blackberry addicts but human beings who haven’t forgotten the gifts of focus, concentration and mindfulness. Easier said than done, right?

Cognitive scientist Dan Simons was inevitably asked whether there was anything we could do to enlarge the capacity of our minds. The answer was an emphatic “no.” There are hard limits to what our brains will do and no amount of Baby Mozart’s or Brain Trainers that will alter that. Practice, Simons says, will improve specific skills but not general abilities. Doing Sudoko will make you better at Sudoko; it won’t raise your GMAT or LSAT scores or a better jailer.

Is there anything that truly enhances cognition? Yes, exercise! Experiments by his colleague Arthur Kramer showed that walking for a few hours a week led to large improvements on cognitive tasks. Stretching and toning exercises had no cognitive benefits, but aerobic exercise, which increases blood flow to the brain, did. Seniors who walked for just 45 minutes a day for three days a week showed better preservation of their brains in MRI scans. Exercise, improves cognition broadly by increasing the fitness of your brain. How many correctional practitioners do you know that do not exercise, drink plenty of coffee and smoke cigarettes to get through their daily lives?

Care about your “asset integrity”? Get out of the office and go for a walk. Exercise regularly. Take those needed vacations, go home at a reasonable hour and have dinner with family. And administrators make sure the people who work for you do, too. Don’t be a victim of those short term life expectancy rates of Correction personal.

Editors Note: Corrections.com author William Daly, a veteran in the field of Corrections, entering his 24th year. Daly is a retired Captain from the New York City Department of Correction and Currently the Acting Director of the Salt River Department of Correction, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Written By: William Daly, co authored by Margeret Heffernan.


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  2. Striker on 09/13/2010:

    I can't think of anything to say..everybody here has posted it.

  3. orbit on 09/11/2010:

    Mr. Daly this article is not only written well but is soooo true. I know to many people that are over worked and under paid and as a result have not only health issues but family issues as well. GREAT ARTICLE!

  4. orbit on 09/11/2010:

    Mr. Daly this article is not only written well but is soooo true. I know to many people that are over worked and under paid and as a result have not only health issues but family issues as well. GREAT ARTICLE!

  5. suemny on 09/10/2010:

    No matter what service industry it may be...from airline pilots to doctors in hospitals..mandatory overtime and overworked employees= costly and often deadly mistakes. And how did we survive before blackberries and other modern technology? One on one, face to face contact, that's how... AND getting out from in front of the monitor and smelling the roses once in a while.... which is exactly what I'm about to do! The article was well written and the author very articulate!

  6. Jailguard on 09/09/2010:

    Great article, unfortunately according to many of my friends in the world of business outside of Corrections, thier bosses do not think about thier employees in this light. It seems as you move up the ladder, whatever that may be, you tend to feel the need to impress with what is described in the article. Regret to say that other countries may have it right with all the "leave time" they recieve compared to the United States. Were running ourselves in too graves quicker than necessary.

  7. greenman on 09/09/2010:

    farsighted planning is not the norm. the author has farsighted views.long term ,departments would save money following these concepts.The powers that be should read this article when deciding funding issues

  8. kimba on 09/09/2010:

    Excellent article, you hit the nail right on its head!

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