Social workers value reduction in stress more than pay rise

Community Care research finds social workers now more likely to job hunt to escape pressure than to obtain better pay or career opportunities

Reduced stress and manageable caseloads have become more important to social workers seeking new jobs according to research commissioned by Community Care Jobs.

The survey of 1,351 social workers undertaken last year examined how social workers’ attitudes to job hunting have changed since a previous survey carried out in 2014.

If you would like to know more about the findings from this research and join a debate about the implications for social worker recruitment then please join our webinar on Tuesday 28 February. Community Care’s editor, Judy Cooper, will go through the findings in more detail and host a debate among delegates. Register now.

While the top factor most likely to make them consider a new job remains a better work-life balance (48%) this was followed by less stress (36%).

This is compared to 2014 when better pay was the second most important factor.

Factors tempting social workers to change jobs in 2016

Also making an appearance in the top five is lower caseloads while new work challenges and better career development opportunities have dropped off.

The results suggest a marked shift in what tempts social workers to seek new employment in the past two years, with a desire for a less stressful and pressured work life taking precedence over traditional motivations such as better pay and career development opportunities.

More pressure, less pride

The changes come despite social workers feeling more positive about how they are managed and supported than in 2014.

In 2014 56% said they were “well managed” and the same proportion felt they got an appropriate level of support in their current job. In the 2016 survey 62% said they were “well managed” and 61% felt they got the appropriate level of support at their workplace.

However 96% of respondents told this year’s survey that there is more day-to-day pressure on social workers than ever before and only 46% felt prouder to be a social worker today than three years ago, compared to 50% in 2014.

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6 Responses to Social workers value reduction in stress more than pay rise

  1. tcm February 15, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    Cash and or more Annual Leave for me will help reduce my stress level!!

    • Kira February 18, 2017 at 8:10 pm #


    • A Man Called Horse February 20, 2017 at 10:38 am #

      More Work and less pay has been the guiding principle for the Tories for many years. You don’t like it go and work for minimum pay on a zero hour contract. My pay is the same now as it was 10 years back, before the Bankers wrecked the economy and left us with public sector Austerity. Stop voting Tory is the best advice I can give to any Social Worker.

  2. Maharg February 15, 2017 at 10:59 am #

    Statistics, the direct result of asking contrived Question.

    Less stress equates to what level of stress is the norm, and is the norm for the team ,location job role, or the local authority. None of these questions have been answered in the ambiguous reflection of this massive reflection of social workers responses.

    Work life balance is a nice vague term, somewhere in the this, there must be an element of can I afford to live on this wage and this location.

    So before you jump up and down and say social workers don’t need a wage that reflects the value because we’re all happy with a worklife balance consider flawed research.

  3. Stuart February 15, 2017 at 9:39 pm #

    My guess is most social workers are not looking to move for better pay because there is nowhere with better pay. It’s pretty dire most places and I see plenty where the employer is clearly using one device or another (or several) to reduce pay.

    I’ve been in the business long enough to have reached the top of the scale (and start receiving state pension), without which I have no idea how I’d support a family and the modest lifestyle I think my hours and years have earned.

    Quite how people on starter salaries manage to feel rewarded and give their family a standard of living that makes the long hours and stress worthwhile I have absolutely no idea.

    I came into social work to do the job more than to make my fortune and I guess most of us would say the same but there needs to be something to attract the best new people to the service and to keep them beyond first degree burnout but I see little sign of that.

  4. paul owen February 22, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    It’s a bit of a waste of time asking the question really as we all know that there will be a 1% rise if not a freeze anyway.
    Please also remember that the previous Labour ‘government’ were the first to implement a pay freeze so it’s not just the Conservatives. Salary increase in real terms is around -10%. Like Stuart I’m at the top of my pay grade. Should have stayed in engineering, I’d have been around £15,000 a year better off.

    People talk about less stress, the current procedures and amount of pointless paperwork will cause extra stress as will recoding systems which crash and not being able to find a desk. Nothing is being done about any of the issues other to increase the amount of time spent in an office which is more like a call centre.

    Mapping, spit. 16+ years in the department. Do a mapping, supervisor looks at it, changes a few bits due to ‘inappropriate language (not PC enough), sends to Practice Manager, gets rejected as the formats been changed again without telling anyone, needs to be re-written = around three hours wasted time and increase in irritation.