The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Explorative Research On Factors Influencing Job Satisfaction Among Social Workers in Beijing

Friday, January 18, 2013
Grande Ballroom A, B, and C (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Huang Yunong, PhD, Associate Professor, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu, China
Lei Wu, PhD, Faculty, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China
Xinglong Hou, MSW, Student, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China
Background and Purpose: The past five years witnessed vigorous development of social work in China. The Chinese Central Government proposed that a workforce of two million social workers will be established in China till 2015. Social work agencies and education have boosted. The issues of professionalization and indigenization in social work have been widely debated. However, little empirical research has been dedicated for workforce study. Although job satisfaction and its correlates for social workers have been studied thoroughly in US and other countries, it is still a novel topic for Chinese academics and practice. This study aims to explore the issue of job satisfaction in social work agencies in Beijing, China. It focuses on possible factors influencing social workers’ job satisfaction in an explorative and localized manner.

Methods: Due to no prior research on the topic, a qualitative research method with individual, face-to-face, and in-depth semi-structured interviews was adopted in the study. With nonprobability sampling method, two social work agencies were selected. Twelve social workers with social work degrees and no less than half a year work experience in areas such as youth, health care, and corrections were recruited. One-third of them were male, and two-thirds had bachelor degrees and with Beijing household-residence identity. They ranged in age from 22 to 28 and reported a monthly income from $250-500. Data were coded and analyzed scrupulously to identify patterns of influencing factors across the interviews.

Results: Based on their experience and perspective in the agencies, two thirds of the participants reported high job satisfaction and the others showed modest job satisfaction. It was demonstrated that several prominent organizational, supervisory, and individual factors contributed to their job satisfaction. The factors included relationship with coworkers and supervisors, supervision, skill improvement, job values, communications, and social work development trend in China. In contrast, income and benefits, management in the agencies, career development, social recognition of social work in China, and education in social work were found to negatively impact their job satisfaction. These localized factors provided a framework of factors influencing job satisfaction in the context of preliminary development of social work in China.

Conclusions and Implications: This study explores factors and their influences on social workers’ job satisfaction in Beijing, China. The empirical finding about Beijing social workers bridges the knowledge gap between western theory and Chinese context. It also lays a ground for measurement development of job satisfaction in Chinese language. This findings imply that the government, agencies, and educators should pay special attention to specific factors such as income, benefits, management, career development, social recognition, and education which may reduce the workers’ job satisfaction thus affect their retention in the future. Further research is needed to verify quantitatively the factors and explore the negative impacts of the factors on workers’ job satisfaction and retention.