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Survey reveals 1 in 10 social workers are looking for a job outside the sector because of stress

When asked how they’d rate the quality of their current employer a significant split emerged, with 52% rating them poor or at best fair. When asked whether they felt their current organisation values the role they do, 43% of social workers feel undervalued.

Leading social work job site Community Care Jobs and resourcing business TMP Worldwide are today releasing the results of their joint research study The Social Work Jobs Market: What’s really going on. Carried out by independent research consultancy Reed Business Insight, it provides insight in to what social workers feel about their working conditions and identifies ways employers can adapt their recruitment, as well as their day-to-day practices in order to recruit and retain the best staff.

The survey also probed respondents on what would tempt them to consider a new social work job. Better work/life balance topped the list, followed closely by increased salary/remuneration and then new work challenges/experiences. More than half of those surveyed declared they would consider relocating for a new job in the future. Interestingly, nearly three quarters feel good management was the principal factor when deciding which employer to work for. This and increasingly demanding caseloads were also reasons prompting social workers to recommend their current organisation as a place to work.

Ruth Smith, editor of Community Care, said: “Social work is a vitally important profession, yet nearly one-in-ten social workers are looking for a job elsewhere because their roles are too stressful.  We also know that councils struggle to recruit and retain social workers. This major piece of research into job-seeking behaviour provides some practical pointers about how to improve the situation, for example by improving HR recruitment processes, avoiding corporate speak and being more honest about the reality of the job. Good management and support when in post will also prevent high turnover of staff and despite the current resource challenges facing the profession, employers need to invest more in this.”

Specialist social care job sites, including Community Care Jobs, continue to be the number 1 source used by social workers when looking for a new job, with 75% of the sector using them. It was distantly trailed  by generalist job sites at 38% and employers own sites at 36%. 45% of social workers said recruiters don’t usually do a good job throughout the recruitment process, with the research uncovering that some processes took six months or more.

99% of respondents stated that an acknowledgement of their application, regular feedback and short application forms would encourage them to apply, while speed dating style events and lengthy application forms would put them off. If employers are to attract and retain the best employees they need to consider paying overtime and a car allowance, with 53% and 43% of social workers respectively ranking these as important.

Robert Peasnell from TMP adds “It’s critical for social work deliver a better candidate experience to people applying for jobs. Despite the high cost of agency staff and shortage of experienced staff, too often the recruitment process is slow, uninspiring and bureaucratic.  Candidate feedback is also key, so it’s essential that employers not only acknowledge applications, but that they communicate with candidates throughout the recruitment process”.

 

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