Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

61P A Work Tenure Multi-Group Path Analysis of Intent-to-Leave, Burnout, and Job Stress: Does Employment-Based Social Capital Make a Difference?

Friday, January 13, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Javier Boyas, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
Leslie H. Wind, PhD, Clinical Associate Professor, University of Southern California, Irvine, CA
Purpose: Two of the most significant challenges in the practice of child protection are voluntary employee turnover and burnout. The U.S. General Accounting Office (2003) estimates that, nationally, employee turnover rates in child welfare are between 30% and 40%; with most workers leaving within the first 3 years. Current estimates suggest that as many as 50% of child protection workers report experiencing symptoms of burnout. Existing research suggests that organizational factors are linked with voluntary turnover and burnout. Despite these findings, no study has examined how paths to burnout and intent-to-leave may differ between workers who have worked in child protection for 3 years or more and workers who have less than 3 years of employment. Moreover, there is a need for an investigation that provides a better understanding of the complex interaction of multiple organizational factors that contribute to the genesis of intent-to-leave and burnout. This study responds to this knowledge gap by conducting a multi-group structural equation analysis that examines the relationship between employment-based social capital, job stress, burnout, and intent-to-leave among two groups based on tenure.

Method: This study employed a cross-sectional research design and utilized a statewide purposive sample of 209 respondents from a public child welfare organization in a New England state. Two groups were created based on years of experience. One group consisted of workers who were employed less than 3 years, while the other group included workers with more than 3 years of employment. This study utilized Structural Equation Modeling computed in AMOS 7. The model was tested in two stages. All variables in the model were treated as observed. None of the direct paths were constrained in the model.

Results: SEM results suggest that the paths to burnout and intent-to-leave differed by tenure group. More dimensions of social capital were associated with reducing job stress among workers with less than 3 years of tenure. However, social capital had a stronger influence on reducing burnout among workers with more than 3 years of tenure. Different dimensions of social capital shaped notions of intent-to-leave among both groups; however, social capital had a stronger influence for workers with less than 3 years of tenure. Overall, the model explained equal variance between both groups on intent-to-leave and burnout, but not job stress. On job stress, the dimensions of social capital explained more of the variance among workers with more than 3 years of tenure compared to those with less years of employment.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that, when several dimensions of employment-based social capital are present, they act as direct protective factors in decreasing job stress and notions of intent-to-leave. Given that organizations may not have the financial and human resources to change the entire organizational culture to better meet the needs of newer workers, they can make strategic choices of what dimensions of the organization they do change. Therefore, organizations may need to establish intervention efforts aimed at newer workers by increasing employment-based social capital resources that provide immediate and long-term structures of support.