Having time to spend with service users is more important than pay when it comes to job satisfaction, say social workers

But pay becomes more important as social workers progress up the career ladder, according to a survey by Liquid Personnel

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Social workers rank face-to-face time with service users as the most important factor when it comes to job satisfaction, followed closely by work/life balance and a manageable workload.

However, for newly qualified social workers, a manageable workload rises to the top of the list of priorities, with service user contact falling to fourth place.

Recruitment consultancy Liquid Personnel asked 520 social workers, 102 of which were newly qualified and 136 senior, to rank 10 factors in order of importance.

The findings suggest pay becomes more important as social workers progress up the career ladder. NQSWs rated fair pay/salary as the least important factor, whereas senior social workers had this in fourth place.

For social workers at all levels, recognition from your team/manager and opportunities for promotion and progression were not as valued as time spent with service users, a personal sense of achievement, manageable workload and adequate support and supervision.

Jonathan Coxon, managing director of Liquid Personnel, said: “Some factors, such as spending time face-to-face with service users, appear to be universally important to social workers’ job satisfaction, and employers would do well to prioritise these things.

“However, job satisfaction does depend heavily on the individual practitioner and their particular needs, and it’s essential for managers to understand the individuals on their team and what drives them.”

How the different factors scored from 1 (most important) to 10 (least important):

All social workers surveyed: 

  1. Face-to-face time with service users
  2. A good work/life balance
  3. A manageable workload
  4. Personal sense of achievement or ‘making a difference’
  5. Fair pay/salary
  6. Good communication/relationship with your manager
  7. Adequate support and supervision
  8. Training and development opportunities
  9. Recognition from your team/manager
  10. Opportunities for promotion and progression

Newly qualified social workers

  1. A manageable workload
  2. Personal sense of achievement or ‘making a difference’
  3. Adequate support and supervision
  4. Face-to-face time with service users
  5. Training and development opportunities
  6. A good work/life balance
  7. Good communication/relationship with your manager
  8. Opportunities for promotion and progression
  9. Recognition from your team/manager
  10. Fair pay/salary

Senior social workers

  1. Face-to-face time with service users
  2. A good work/life balance
  3. A manageable workload
  4. Fair pay/salary
  5. Personal sense of achievement or ‘making a difference’
  6. Good communication/relationship with your manager
  7. Adequate support and supervision
  8. Training and development opportunities
  9. Recognition from your team/manager
  10. Opportunities for promotion and progression

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