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4 Ways to Improve Morale in a 9-1-1 Dispatch Center Over the Holidays

Author: Kathleen Babcook/Xybix

Date: 2016-11-18
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Originally appeared on Xybix blog, posted by the author on Nov 6, 2015. Used by permission.

Motivation and overall morale in the dispatch center are difficult to maintain and with the encroaching holidays, one thing is for certain, 9-1-1 dispatchers are called to be at the top of their game. Holidays can be a very busy time for 9-1-1; burnout, sickness and just genuine lack of motivation can be huge problems causing 9-1-1 centers everywhere to struggle. Nothing can replace giving up time with family or friends over the holidays. So, what can you do to help motivate and maybe inspire your dispatchers this holiday season?

1. Try a potluck for the Holidays. It’s relatively cheap for management (i.e. you may have to buy some cups and paper plates) but, it allows people feel a sense of obligation and involvement with their fellow co-workers. Not to mention often times, your co-workers can also be considered like “second family.” I have heard of many centers in which, one person brings the turkey and everyone else chips in for side items and desserts (just keep it on the healthy side).

2. Try a White Elephant or Secret Santa. We do this at our office and usually just about everyone participates. Those who choose to participate, write their name and three things they like on a slip of paper (i.e. movies, wine, chocolate). We draw names the week before, there is a twenty-dollar limit (but you can set this to whatever you like). Then we usually have 3 days of gift giving throughout the week (this can be adjusted based on schedules and work hours). In the morning, each person, places their gift for their “Secret Santa” in a communal area, such as by a Christmas tree in the lobby or other specified area. Then at the end of the day, everyone can retrieve their gifts. People have a ton of fun with it, from wrapping the gifts in newspaper, to placing a tiny box inside of a huge one filled with foam wrapping peanuts.

3. Create Fun Awards for Doing Something Good: Make up some nomination slips so that any staff member can nominate a colleague for doing something good. Have a box in your staff area to put the nominations in. Draw one nomination out each week and that person gets the award. Type up all the nominations and display them in the staff area as a “Hall of Fame.”

Here are some ideas for titles/prizes: 

  • Certificate of Appreciation
  • Scratchie (lottery ticket) Award
  • Good Guy Award
  • Shining Light Award - The Shining Light Award is a torch. Whoever wins the award has to shine the torch on the next winner.
  • The WAM (Worth A Mention) Award
  • Employee of the Month
  • Customer Service Award

4. If you haven’t done so already, invest in your people. After all, happy employees, make happier, healthier work environments. Try something like adding a treadmill or bike to the center. Challenge your co-workers to a walk-a-thon. The person with the most steps wins a prize. Or create a holiday theme, like "Turkey-Trot for Treats." Give clever healthy prizes to anyone who completes the challenge (like walking the recommended 10,000 steps a day, each day for the month of December to win a FitBit prize giveaway or the like).

A few final notes. Be sure to include as many people as possible (it’s more fun this way). Start planning now! Gather a committee, find that really creative person to take charge, get a team in place. Make sure that whatever you do to motivate this holiday season, you abide by all your center’s policies for safety and professionalism. And, try to have a little fun, it can go a long way!

Kathleen Babcook has been Director of Marketing at Xybix, an industry leader in the design, building, and implementation of ergonomic furniture solutions for 9-1-1 Dispatch Centers, Command and Control environments and Control Rooms, since September of 2010. A Colorado native, Kathleen received her Bachelor’s Degree from the College of St Benedict/St John's University in St. Joseph, MN. While attending, she also studied Graphic Design and Advertising. After moving back to Denver, in 2009, Kathleen received her MBA in Marketing from Regis University.

For more information on Xybix, see


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