Social work is a profession founded on building relationships between people. Though they may become part of the industry for a variety of different reasons, ultimately social workers want to make a positive difference within the lives of those they set out to help. It can be a stressful job at times, both mentally and emotionally challenging for workers and the people they are caring for. But it is, undoubtedly, rewarding. As a social worker, you become a ‘professional friend’, someone to turn to in a time of need, and you can enrich the lives of not only those you work with directly, but their families and friends too.
Outside of rewarding relationships, what do social workers actually want from a job? A positive work-life balance, reduced stress and good management are just some things social workers are actively seeking from employers. A 2016 survey of just over 1,000 social workers, carried out by the agency TMP Worldwide, revealed that social workers value stress reduction over a pay rise within a job. Individuals surveyed cited increasing pressure in their daily roles as a reason for preferring this stress release as opposed to higher salaries. When the same survey was undertaken in 2014, it revealed that social workers were tempted to change jobs because they wanted a better work/life balance and an increased salary.
As time has progressed, it’s clear that culture, environment and workloads have taken precedence over purely seeking more pay, something employers should take note of. Of course, salary will always be an important factor in any job hunt, but employees are increasingly seeking a more harmonious work life. One 2015 study revealed that nearly half of employees surveyed felt they didn’t have enough time each week to do personal activities.
Support in the workplace
This stress and increased pressure some social workers report could be eased by improved leadership. Social workers want, and need, competent and high-quality leadership to develop effectively within their roles. Without this kind of leadership, the sector cannot flourish as it should and nor can the individuals within it. In another survey carried out by TMP Worldwide, they established that the principle factor that social workers look for in a new employer is good management, above all other aspects.
Social workers not only want support from their workplace, but also the opportunity to work autonomously. Taylor and Francis revealed in a recent survey that this can encourage social workers to stay in a role for longer. The survey highlighted the need for “building supportive job conditions” as a preventative method for career burnout.
For social workers, it seems that the nature of their workplace matters more than the amount that they are paid. A US survey looked at the ethics of the workplace, citing that “a positive ethical climate and job satisfaction protected against respondents’ intentions to leave”. Social workers appreciate ethical workplaces; in fact, it is one of the more fundamental aspects of their jobs that matters.
Finding the right role
At Charles Hunter Associates, we are continually increasing our service to meet the demands of a sector that requires the highest standards and the best candidates. We are a specialist social work recruitment agency recognising the importance of the quality of individual candidates. We dedicate our time to placing qualified social workers in both contract and permanent roles and social care staff in permanent roles across the UK.
We believe in recognising what individuals want from a specific role and so we always try to match candidates with roles suited to their exact needs. Our professional social work and care workers are committed and passionate within their roles as we realise the difference that they can make to people’s lives.