Social Work Services: How to Lower Chronically High Turnover Rates and Prevent Worker Burnout

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Assignment: Write an 800 to 1200 word research report analyzing a problem in your area of study and analyze at least 3 solutions to the problem. Conclude with your recommendations. The report will have a readability of at least 11th grade. Use APA style with in-text citations and a reference page.



High turnover and burnout rates of social workers have been a problem for a long time. Social workers burn out from large caseloads, little or no guidance or support, and a stressful work environment with low pay and long working hours. While many social workers are very committed to their job, review of literature shows burnout directly relates to a lack of organizational and professional commitment, lack of social support, and stress. There are many solutions agencies can consider to prevent high burnout and turnover. The most cost effective solutions include careful screening of suitable applicants, communicating the agency's values and goals to employees, rewarding good job performance, and improved supervisory guidance and support.


Worker burnout often causes high turnover rates; a serious concern for many areas of social work services. According to Kraus (2002), child welfare agencies and health care agencies experience turnover rates of up to 50 percent compared to a 10 percent turnover rate for all other government agencies. The high turnover rate impacts society greatly because many private and government agencies employ social workers. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (as cited by Barth, 2003) lists 12 areas of social work; Gibleman and Schervish (as cited by Barth, 2003) added 5 more areas. Social work encompasses a wide variety of services.

The quality, consistency, and stability of social services provided to individuals and families inevitably suffer from worker burnout; especially, when workers leave their positions and other employees have to pick up the slack. Additionally, taxpayers carry a burden of not only receiving inadequate services, but also by footing the bill to pay for hiring and training new social workers. This research includes a review of literature on ways to reduce social worker burnout and turnover by removing organizational indifferences; providing better guidance, support, and supervision; and by teaching better stress management and coping skills to social workers.



Removing indifferent attitudes from workers about their job is crucial to make workers feel better about their job and their agency; it is important in decreasing burnout and turnover rates. If workers have a stake in their agency, they are more likely to feel appreciated, gain a sense of purpose, and become more active in the organization (Keefe, 2003). A way to remove indifference is to assure employees comprehend the agency's goals, thus enabling workers to work towards fulfilling them. To further enhance commitment towards an agency's goals, employees should also receive incentives if they work towards those goals (Kraus, 2002). Incentives also increase how workers feel about their employer; therefore, general performance and effectiveness should be rewarded with incentives ("Studies: Workforce," 2003). Another way to change workers' attitudes is to simplify their work. This can be achieved by teaching efficient use of technology and by making materials needed readily available to workers (Keefe, 2003). Lastly, workers are less likely to feel indifferent about their jobs if they match their skills and personality. To achieve this, supervisors must hire the correct person for a position. Supervisors can only do so if job specifications are correctly and reasonably set and if they know about the skills needed for each position (Kraus, 2002). Removing organizational indifferences is not an easy task; however, once accomplished, workers will feel their managers appreciate them and the rest of their team...
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