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  • 1.
    Tham, Pia
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology, Social work.
    A professional role in transition: Swedish child welfare social workers’ descriptions of their work in 2003 and 20142018In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 8, no 2, p. 449-467Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study is based on a follow-up in 2014 of a survey conducted in 2003 among Swedish child welfare social workers. The same questionnaire used in 2003 (n = 309) was distributed to social workers (n = 349) who, in 2014, were working with the same types of tasks as in the previously investigated areas. The overall aim was to examine and analyse how working conditions have developed over these eleven years. From the results, two general patterns emerge. The first shows a deterioration of their working conditions, with higher work demands, increased role conflicts and less possibility to influence important decisions. The intention to leave the workplace or the profession had also increased. The second overall pattern concerns the emerging changes in job content, where the work today seems to be focused on conducting investigations whereas the vast majority of the social workers in 2003 also mentioned other tasks, such as giving advice and support, as being part of their job content. Contrary to their wishes, the social workers of today seem to have less time to devote to direct contact with clients. The consequences of these changes for the professional role of social workers and for their clients are discussed.

  • 2.
    Tham, Pia
    Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan.
    Arbetsvillkor i den sociala barnavården: förutsättningar för ett kvalificerat arbete2008Doctoral 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.

  • 3.
    Tham, Pia
    Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan.
    Factors Affecting Intention to Leave among Social Workers in Child Welfare2007In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 37, no 7, p. 1225-1246Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article addresses a topic that has not previously been researched in Sweden, i.e. factors associated with the intention of social workers to leave their place of work. A comprehensive questionnaire was distributed to 309 social workers in child welfare in the County of Stockholm (drop-out rate: 3 per cent). The study comprised a total of forty-two workgroups. All the social workers handling referrals and investigating the situation of children and youth in these areas were included. One of the most striking results was that although 54 per cent of the social workers had been at their current workplace for two years or less, 48 per cent intended to leave their jobs. A logistic regression analysis showed that the variable of greatest importance for the intention to leave the workplace was lack of human resource orientation within the organization, i.e. the extent to which personnel are rewarded for a job well done, feel well taken care of and where management is interested in their health and well-being. A final conclusion of this study is that when measuring the impact of different aspects of work tasks compared with some aspects of organizational culture, it becomes clear that the latter seem to be most important in this respect.

  • 4.
    Tham, Pia
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology, Social work.
    Mindre erfaren - mer utsatt?: Nya och mer erfarna forskningssekreterares beskrivningar av sina arbetsvillkor2016In: Socionomens forskningssupplement, Vol. 40, no 6, p. 20-33Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 5.
    Tham, Pia
    Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan.
    Ny i yrket men redan gammal i gården?: Arbetsvillkor för nya och mer erfarna socialsekretare i den sociala barnavården2007In: Socionomens forskningssupplement, Vol. 22, no 6, p. 62-77Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 6.
    Tham, Pia
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology, Social work.
    Where the need is greatest: a comparison of the perceived working conditions of social workers in Swedish metropolitan low-, middle-and high-income areas in 2003 and 20142018In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, Vol. 8, no 2, p. 185-200Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study is the third in a series of studies comparing the development of the working conditions of child welfare social workers in Sweden during the last decade. The same questionnaire was distributed in 2014 (n = 349) to the social workers handling investigations of children and youth who were working with the same types of tasks in the districts previously investigated in 2003 (n = 309). The questionnaire (QPS Nordic) contained questions about their job content, role conflicts, demands, organisational climate, job satisfaction and intention to leave the workplace or change profession. The aim of the present study was to analyse this development in relation to the low-income, middle-income and high-income districts where the social workers were employed. The results reveal two different patterns. The first concerns the social workers’ perception of their work tasks where the situation seems to have deteriorated in all three income areas but more so in the low income areas. Furthermore, the social workers’ intention to leave the workplace and health problems had increased overall, but were more pronounced in the low income areas. The second pattern concerns the differences in the social workers’ perception of their workplace in terms of support, leadership and organisational climate. In the low-income areas the social workers today are significantly less satisfied with how their organisations function than their colleagues were in 2003, whereas the social workers in the other areas today seem significantly more satisfied than in 2003. The consequences of these changes and their probable background are discussed.

  • 7.
    Tham, Pia
    Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan.
    Why are they leaving?: Factors Affecting Intention to Leave among Social Workers in Child Welfare2007In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 37, p. 1225-1246Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article addresses a topic that has not previously been researched in Sweden, i.e. factors associated with the intention of social workers to leave their place of work. A comprehensive questionnaire was distributed to 309 social workers in child welfare in the County of Stockholm (drop-out rate: 3 per cent). The study comprised a total of forty-two workgroups. All the social workers handling referrals and investigating the situation of children and youth in these areas were included. One of the most striking results was that although 54 per cent of the social workers had been at their current workplace for two years or less, 48 per cent intended to leave their jobs. A logistic regression analysis showed that the variable of greatest importance for the intention to leave the workplace was lack of human resource orientation within the organization, i.e. the extent to which personnel are rewarded for a job well done, feel well taken care of and where management is interested in their health and well-being. A final conclusion of this study is that when measuring the impact of different aspects of work tasks compared with some aspects of organizational culture, it becomes clear that the latter seem to be most important in this respect.

  • 8.
    Tham, Pia
    et al.
    Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan.
    Kåreholt, Ingemar
    Work tasks or the organization-what matters for the health and well-being of child welfare social workers?Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
  • 9.
    Tham, Pia
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Social Work.
    Lynch, Deborah
    The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia .
    'Lost in transition?': newly educated social workers reflections on their first months in practice [Från socionomstudent till socialarbetare – nyexaminerade socionomers reflektioner kring de första månaderna i yrket]2019In: European Journal of Social Work, ISSN 1369-1457, E-ISSN 1468-2664, Vol. 22, no 3, p. 400-411Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Entering the work of world can involve significant challenges for the beginning practitioner. The transition process from university to work can play an important role in the emerging practitioner’s development as a social worker. The present longitudinal study follows 12 Swedish social work graduates from university and over their first four years in practice. The study provides an insight into how newly educated practitioners may experience the transition from university to the world of work and considers how they can be prepared and supported to meet the challenges of practice within contemporary work contexts. The students were first interviewed just prior to leaving university [see Tham & Lynch (2014). Prepared for practice? Graduating social work students’ reflections on their education, competence and skills. Social Work Education, 33(6), 704–717]. This paper captures the reflections of these students after four months in practice. Feelings of unpreparedness, unorganised, or even ‘chaotic’ perceptions of the workplace and uncertainty about the future were emergent themes, particularly among new practitioners employed in social services. The findings illustrate the vulnerability of these new practitioners and the importance of workplace induction and the provision of adequate support in their new professional roles.

  • 10.
    Tham, Pia
    et al.
    Stockholms universitet.
    Lynch, Deborah
    The University of Queensland, Australia .
    Prepared for Practice?: Graduating Social Work Students' Reflections on Their Education, Competence and Skills2014In: Social Work Education, ISSN 0261-5479, E-ISSN 1470-1227, Vol. 33, no 6, p. 704-717Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The paper encompasses the views of 13 Swedish graduating social work students on their education, competence, skills and expectations for their future roles as social workers. It presents the findings of the first phase of a longitudinal study where students in Sweden and Australia are followed from university and during the first 18 months in the profession. A qualitative methodology was employed and semi-structured interviews were conducted with the students just prior to graduating. The most salient theme was the strong wish for more time in contact with the field. All of the students would have preferred at least one additional period of field placement. A strong wish for clarity, particularly in relation to understanding what it means to practise social work, emerged. Although most of the graduates talked about their self-development and described themselves as having become more critical and more self-confident, they perceived themselves as more or less unprepared for most social work positions and expected to receive considerable support and guidance in their workplaces. The proportion of theoretical and research courses in comparison to the teaching of practice skills and field placements within Swedish social work education is discussed. 

  • 11.
    Tham, Pia
    et al.
    Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan.
    Meagher, Gabrielle
    Department of Social Policy, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Australia.
    Working in human services: How do experiences and working conditions in child welfare social work compare?2009In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 39, no 5, p. 807-827Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 12.
    Tham, Pia
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Social Work.
    Strömberg, Annika
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational Health Science and Psychology, Occupational Health Science. University of Gävle, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research.
    The Iron Cage of Leadership: The Role of First-line Managers in Child Welfare2019In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263XArticle in journal (Refereed)
  • 13.
    Thorén, Katarina H.
    et al.
    Department of Social Work, Stockholm University, Sweden; School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, United States.
    Tham, Pia
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Psychology, Social work.
    Social work academia and policy in Sweden2017In: Where academia and policy meet: a cross-national perspective on the involvement of social work academics in social policy / [ed] Gal, J. & Weiss-Gal, I., Bristol: Policy Press, 2017, p. 183-200Chapter in book (Refereed)
1 - 13 of 13
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