HR Transformation in the Danish Police

The police have a strong impact on the safety and security of citizens, as well as on the welfare and prosperity of society as a whole. Consequently, it is of great importance that the police deliver high performance in police services. In a world that is constantly changing and is increasingly complex, there is often a push for faster adaption and radical change. As a result, police organizations are discovering an increased need for adjusting to societal changes as part of the ongoing development of the police, which makes human resources (HR) transformation a strategic management issue for agencies.

HR transformation links HR strategy to the overall business strategy of an organization.1 This approach is heavily inspired by a general movement in the public sector in Scandinavia where tax payers and citizens expect more and better public service for less or the same available resources. By implementing effective business-driven HR in the Danish National Police, the organization aims to meet this demand.

This article describes how the Danish National Police has introduced HR transformation as part of its HR strategy and implemented the innovative approach within the fields of further education and advanced training planning.

HR Strategy

By law, the Danish National Police’s responsibilities include a great variety of tasks and cover the whole of society, both geographically and socially. The purpose of the agency is to maintain safety, security, peace, and order in the Danish society, and it is to achieve this purpose via prevention, assistance, and law enforcement.

Through effective and focused development of business-driven HR, it is the aim of the Danish National Police, Department of Corporate HR, to deliver service and support to the core business of the police by making sure that the organization, at all times, has the right capabilities and capacities in terms of skills and expertise of the personnel. This work is structured in an HR strategy that also aims to ensure that the Danish National Police is one of the best workplaces in Denmark and an organization where employees thrive and deliver high-quality performance. These dual goals support the continuous development of the Danish National Police and allow the agency to provide the best possible results to society.

The main objectives of the HR strategy are to ensure that the Danish National Police is an attractive workplace with competent employees and professional leaders—and that it has an HR department that delivers effective and service-oriented HR to the organization. It is guided by the overall business strategy of the organization, directing attention to the challenges that are acknowledged and, accordingly, the aims and objectives of the core business.

However, HR strategies are typically long-term investments, which can pose a challenge, as long-term investments sometimes collide with short-term priorities of the core business. This is a fundamental dilemma of having to respond to the ever-changing status and development of crime on a day-to-day basis, while also needing to adapt to more profound changes by providing capabilities and capacities for the future police, as ambiguous and uncertain as that future might be.

It requires an ongoing strategic discussion to address the dilemma, but the Danish National Police are dedicated to strategic coherence and greater transparency as part of providing business-driven HR and the practice of HR transformation.

Implementation of HR Transformation in the Danish National Police

A specific example of successful implementation of HR transformation in the Danish National Police is the implementation of a development process regarding new education and training programs. The development process has been initiated on the basis of an in-depth analysis of further education and advanced training in the Danish National Police, which was carried out in 2012. The analysis showed opportunities for improving the governance of further education and advanced training by implementing a systematic approach to screening the needs of the core business. Hence, the development process has been designed to get a clearer picture of the challenges that need to be faced, as well as to seek transparency of the strategic priorities related to HR investments. Figure 1 illustrates the development process and the critical phases and inputs related to strategic decision making in further education and advanced training planning.

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows the workflow consisting of the following four phases of development: (1) identification of demands for new education and training, (2) Prioritization of the portfolio of education, (3) implementation of the portfolio of education, and (4) follow-up on execution and quality.

The initial phase is analytical in nature, consisting of interpreting the need for adjustments of the agency’s education portfolio, and it involves different stakeholders and other sources of information. In practice, stakeholders from the headquarters of the Danish National Police, the core business departments in the police districts, and external stakeholders can influence education planning by providing business cases that present the need for adjusted or new education and training activities. A business case includes issues such as the potential of an adjusted or new education; the target groups to receive the education; a timeline for the development; and, not least, the risks and economical requirements involved, as a means of guiding the decision making.

The second phase focuses on the decision-making process. By screening the business cases and prioritizing the various needs against the business strategy and the HR strategy, it is possible to direct developments in accordance with both short-term and long-term objectives. In this phase, “advisory boards” are consulted in order to qualify the decisions. Advisory boards consist of members who represent the core business of the police. The idea is that the advisory boards contribute to the strategic mapping by assessing the need for a new training program and, if the need exists, whether the core business is willing to provide the necessary resources to run the program. If the advisory board rejects the relevance of an adjusted or new program, the process either stops at this stage or the business case will be the subject of further examination before entering the next stage. If the board decides in favor of a program, the process moves on to the next phase.

The third phase includes the practical development of education initiatives through the adjustment of specific education content, the development of new learning approaches, and the design of education concepts, as well as the cultivation of new fields of knowledge or negotiation in regard to specific business cases. This phase also includes the implementation of the education portfolio.

Finally, the fourth phase involves following up on the execution and quality of the education portfolio. This includes participants’ assessments of the quality and relevance of the courses of study. Furthermore, random employers of the participants are asked for their view on the improvement of participants’ skills and performance as a result of the courses of study. Lastly, some courses are selected for closer assessment by trained evaluation personnel from the Department of Corporate HR. The purpose of evaluating and checking the quality of each new education program is to systemize continuous learning and improvement as an integrated part of the development process.

Results and Further Perspectives

The example from further education and advanced training direct attention to delivering HR services that will support business performance, which sheds light upon the professional judgment regarding the organization’s method for achieving continuous business success. This is not a simple matter.
In a business as complex and ambiguous as the police, successful HR strategy involves interaction with various stakeholders to determine how to execute HR transition to address business challenges, as well as an ability to build mutual commitment to strategic priorities of HR investments, including a holistic approach to HR strategy implementation.

In practice, the Danish National Police has experienced greater coherence and alignment between the business strategy and the HR strategy, and the execution of education activities identified as relevant to the core business has been launched. Additionally, the overall framework for fulfilling the ambitions of the HR strategy is taking form, as the new development process provides an adequate governance structure for business-driven education planning.

Despite these successes, it is still difficult to prove the results of implementing effective business-driven HR. The capacity and capabilities to provide evidence of HR’s contribution to better police service, including visible effects of long-term HR investments, has yet to be further scrutinized.

Business-driven HR in the police requires a clear sense of direction of the development of the core business of policing, including the field’s needs for change and opportunities for innovation. In the Danish National Police, HR transformation is recognized as a good way forward, which has been exemplified in the case of education planning and the implementation of a governance structure that involves stakeholders of the core business.♦

1 Dave Ulrich et al, HR Transformation: Building Human Resources from the Outside In (RBL Institute, 2009).

Please cite as:

Erik Vand and Jette Louise Flensburg, “HR Transformation in the Danish Police,” The Police Chief 81 (October 2014): web-only article.