Friday, 14 January 2005 - 2:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Workforce Issues in Child Welfare
A Statewide Study of Employee Retention in Child Welfare: Implications for Social Work Research, Policy and PracticeAlberta J. Ellett, PhD, University of Georgia, School of Social Work and Chad D. Ellett, PhD, CDE Research Associates, Inc.
Purpose: This study examined individual and organizational factors related to the expressed intentions of public Child Welfare (CW) staff to remain employed in CW. Studies in human services organizations have typically focused on issues pertaining to employee turnover andburnout. Alternatively, the gap in knowledge addressed in this study was the lack of understanding of the relationship between personal and organizational factors related to employee retention in child welfare in a state experiencing twice the national annual average turnover (44%). This is the largest known statewide study of retention in CW.
Methodology: A statewide 198 item survey of all 2,500 CW staff representing all professional levels of employees in a state agency was completed by 1,423 employees (63.2%) in the fall of 2002. The survey measured employees' intentions to remain employed (IRE) in CW, work morale, self-efficacy and collective efficacy beliefs, efficacy expectations, professional organizational culture, human caring, job satisfaction, and factors related to remaining employed in CW.
Research questions framing this study were:
After extensive factor analyses of the survey measures and examination of the internal consistency reliability of the factored subscales, a series of stepwise regression and discriminant function analyses (DFA) was completed to explore relationships between the IRE measure and the various factored subscales of the other measures.
Results: Alpha reliability coefficients for the factored variables ranged from .55 to .94. The regression results showed that variation in the IRE measure was largely explained by staff members' self-reported Professional Commitment to CW, lack of Job Stress, and Organizational Structure variables. These three variables (among a set of 34) accounted for 54% of the total variation in the IRE measure (R2 = .74). Results of a two-group DFA in which the upper and lower quartiles of IRE scores for employees with 3 years or less experience were statistically compared, also showed that Professional Commitment, Lack of Job Stress, and Organizational Structure were the key variables differentiating these two groups. Importantly, predicted classification probabilities for these two IRE groups with the linear discriminant functions derived were 89% (Lower Quartile) and 81% (Upper Quartile). At odds with assumptions in the extant literature, our results also showed that factors contributing to employee retention are notsimply the mirror image of those contributing to employee turnover (Ellett, Ellett, & Rugutt, 2003).
Implications: Implications of the findings are discussed for SW practice and policy related to pre-service preparation, credentialing, recruitment, selection, retention, and professional development. Suggestions for future research and theory building within the context of CW are described. The results expand knowledge about evidenced-based practice in SW and present a rich alternative to more traditional, recently published studies that continue to primarily focus on employee turnover and burnout in the human services (e.g., Barak, Nissly, & Levin, 2001).
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