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Working in human services: How do experiences and working conditions in child welfare social work compare?
Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan.
Department of Social Policy, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Australia.
2009 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 39, no 5, p. 807-827Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Child welfare agencies in many rich countries are having difficulty recruiting and retaining social workers. However, these problems are not unique to child welfare: retention problems have also been widely reported in both mental and general health facilities. In this paper, we compare the perceptions of work and working conditions held by child welfare social workers with the perceptions held by other professional human service workers in the public sector in Sweden. Do the social workers' experiences of their tasks or organizational conditions differ from the other groups, and, if so, how? Are workforce problems particularly acute in child welfare, or do social workers in this field share more or less common problems with other human service professionals? We found that although social workers in general, and child welfare social workers in particular, made positive assessments of some dimensions of their working lives, social work was unusually demanding among human service professions on several measures of workload, complexity of tasks and quality of management. The strains of the job that social workers expressed call upon employers to promote working conditions that offer more support, and to recognize and value social workers for their work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 39, no 5, p. 807-827
Keyword [en]
Child welfare social workers, Comparison, working conditions, Human resource orientation, Human service occupations
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-24966DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcm170ISI: 000268117000003Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-68349128452OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-24966DiVA, id: diva2:1134367
Note

Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7732

Available from: 2008-05-15 Created: 2017-08-18 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Arbetsvillkor i den sociala barnavården: förutsättningar för ett kvalificerat arbete
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Arbetsvillkor i den sociala barnavården: förutsättningar för ett kvalificerat arbete
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis describes and analyzes the working conditions of child welfare social workers who responded to a comprehensive questionnaire (n=309, dropout rate 3 per cent).

In Study 1, the working conditions of social workers new to the profession (0-2 years) were compared with those of social workers with longer experience. The study shows that less experienced workers were more often found working in areas characterized by worse socioeconomic conditions and in workgroups where many others were also new and inexperienced. Although they described some aspects of their working conditions more positively they tended to report more health problems.

In Study 2, working conditions of the child welfare social workers were compared with those of other professional human service workers. The study shows that although social workers in general and child welfare social workers in particular made positive assessments of their working lives, social work was unusually demanding among human service professions on several measures of workload, complexity of tasks and quality of management.

In Study 3, the associations between the child welfare social workers’ working conditions and their health and well-being were investigated, controlling for background variables. The negative consequences of high job demands, especially for psychological health and well being emerge.

In Study 4, factors associated with the social workers’ intention to leave the job were investigated. The study showed that lack of human resource orientation within the organization was of greatest importance.

The results are analyzed from two different perspectives; the effort/reward model and new institutional theory. The main conclusions are that improvement is needed of the introduction to the profession at the workplace, that the status of child protective work needs to be raised and that social workers need help to limit their responsibility load, more time and space for reflection, and greater valuation of their work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan, 2008. p. 216
Keyword
social workers, working conditions, job demands, health, intention to leave
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-24967 (URN)978-91-7155-681-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-06-05, Aula Svea, Socialhögskolan, Sveaplan, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-05-15 Created: 2017-08-18 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved

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