Social workers experience "chronically poor" working conditions

Levels of job dissatisfaction are high in social work

Published on 2nd November 2018

Working conditions for social workers are "chronically poor", according to research by Bath Spa University.

In fact, over the past 12 months, working conditions for social workers have consistently worsened, the research commissioned by BASW and Social Workers Union found.

"Concurrent with 2017 findings, we demonstrated that working conditions (irrespective of job role within social work) are still chronically poor – worse than the UK national average.," said the report. "The only slight exception to this is the amount of support received from peers, which was relatively positive."

Levels of job dissatisfaction were high, as well turnover intentions, presenteeism, and stress, the survey found.

Once again, the demands associated in social work was the one consistent working condition which had the biggest influence on the outcome measures included in the study (stress, job satisfaction, presenteeism, and turnover intentions), the report found.

Social workers cited several ways to improve working conditions including:

- Lighter caseloads

- Less managerial pressure

- Removing repetitive administrative tasks

- Using IT to reduce administrative burdens.

Indeed, while it is acknowledged in this report that the key would be to employ both more trained and untrained social services staff, it is also acknowledged that this may not be possible, the report says.

"Work practices need improvement. Greater physical provision in terms of hot desking is suggested, as is the need for a space away from the work desk for non-work activities (lunch; reflection). A more widely implemented flexible working policy would also be advantageous, as would the necessary IT resources to support this," said the report.

"We have seen that social workers are dedicated to their service users and clearly want greater resources available for them, and we have demonstrated a number of improvements which can be implemented at a political, professional organisation, employing organisation, and managerial level which would improve on these outcomes. This would thus improve outcomes for both social workers and their service users," the report concluded.

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