Abstract: The Impact of Contingent Rewards on Turnover in Child Welfare: A Mixed Method Study (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

46P The Impact of Contingent Rewards on Turnover in Child Welfare: A Mixed Method Study

Friday, January 15, 2010
* noted as presenting author
Astraea Augsberger, MSSW , Columbia University, Doctoral Student, New York, NY
Charles Auerbach, PhD , Yeshiva University, Professor, New York, NY
Brenda G. McGowan, DSW , Fordham University, James R. Dumpson Chair in Child Welfare Studies, New York, NY
Wendy Schudrich, MSW , Yeshiva University, Doctoral Student, New York, NY
Background and Purpose: The present study was designed to examine the factors contributing to retention and turnover among preventive service/family preservation workers in the voluntary sector in a large urban community. A number of studies have identified personal and organizational factors leading to turnover problems in public child welfare (MorBarak, Nissly & Levin, 2001; DePanfilis & Zlotnik, 2008; Strand, & Dore, 2009). However, there is a lack of research focused on factors leading to these same problems in voluntary child welfare settings.

Methods: Participants were 530 workers from 114 preventive programs in a large urban city. Workers were administered a survey addressing personal and organizational factors related to workforce retention and the impact of various aspects of job satisfaction on workers' intent to leave. Over 80 percent of the survey participants also answered two open-ended questions, “What factors might lead you to decide to leave your agency?” and “What factors might lead you to decide to remain at your agency?”

Results: While most participants expressed positive attitudes toward child welfare practice, over half considered leaving their job within the past year. The majority expressed dissatisfaction with pay and promotional opportunities, however logistic regression results indicated that satisfaction with contingent rewards was a stronger predictor of intention to stay (odds = 1.26, p=.000). Results from the qualitative analysis support the finding that lack of adequate support and/or recognition (i.e. contingent rewards) contributes to turnover of workers' in voluntary child welfare settings.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest that contingent rewards are a significant predictor of voluntary child welfare workers' intention to remain employed at their agency. Due to bureaucratic and fiscal constraints, many administrators and supervisors do not have the ability to increase workers' pay and/or offer promotions. However, they do have the capacity to provide staff members with additional support, recognition and other contingent rewards. In order to improve turnover rates in voluntary child welfare agencies, administrators and supervisors should focus on developing innovative ways to recognize and support agency staff.