EMOTIONAL intelligence in aspiring police officers could be just as important a skill as physical fitness and knowledge about the law, a study has found.
Through a series of responses of 193 serving Australian police officers, Southern Cross University Professor Yvonne Brunetto discovered skills of self-awareness, managing emotions, motivation, empathy and handling relationships directly impacted job satisfaction.
Most importantly, the study suggested human resource departments should consider emotional intelligence for both selection and development purposes.
Prof Brunetto believes addressing emotional intelligence from recruitment could be a potential dollar and morale saver for police forces.
"This is crucial in contemporary policing because the retention of valued, experienced and highly trained officers affects policing outcomes," Prof Brunetto said
"In an effort to increase retention, therefore, the consequences for wellbeing and job satisfaction and, consequently, employee engagement and organisational commitment must be considered."
"From our findings, it is argued that in well-acknowledged emotional labour work, such as policing, teaching and nursing, HR practices could thereby be better targeted to achieve more cost-effective HRM outcomes.
The research also found two other possible causes of police job dissatisfaction and disengagement included inadequate supervisory resourcing and support and unrealistic performance targets.
Prof Brunetto said senior police needed to consider selecting police officers that demonstrated high emotional intelligence as they were likely to perform their duties better and encouraged more training for police in defusing potentially explosive interactions with "difficult" perpetrators.