Abstract: Introducing a Brief Assessment of Workplace Environment (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

Introducing a Brief Assessment of Workplace Environment

Saturday, January 19, 2019: 4:30 PM
Union Square 14 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Colleen Janczewski, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Joshua Mersky, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Chien-Ti Lee, PhD, Associate Scientist, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Background and Purpose:  Measures of organizational culture and climate have been shown to predict workforce outcomes and enhance agency capacity for system improvement.  However, the length, complexity, and proprietary nature of these measures limit the potential for widespread use.  Informed by prior research in this area, we developed a brief measure of workplace environment that aims to approximate the descriptive and predictive power of more comprehensive assessments.  The goal of this study was to test this measure of workplace environment in two different social service samples: child protective service workers and home visiting professionals.  We analyzed the psychometric properties of the measure and assessed its ability to predict three workforce outcomes: job satisfaction, intent to quit, and job burnout.

 Methods: A 9-item measure of workplace environment was administered via an online survey of 860 social service professionals in Wisconsin.  The sample includes 660 CPS staff in 52 county child protective service (CPS) agencies and 200 home visiting staff in 22 home visiting programs that serve low-income families with young children.  Job satisfaction and intent to quit were each measured using a single item, while job burnout was measured using the work-related subscale of the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory.

 A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) assessed whether the items aligned with three hypothesized constructs of workplace environment:  interpersonal harmony (IH), supportive leadership (SL), and extrinsic rewards (ER).  To test between-agency effects, we calculated intraclass correlations coefficients (ICC) using random-intercept models.  Lastly, we performed multivariate regression analyses to analyze the extent to which the measure predicted job satisfaction, intent to quit, and job burnout.

 Results:  Scores for the measure ranged from 0 to 36 (M = 23.03, SD= 5.23).  CFA results confirmed the hypothesized three-factor structure (χ2(24) = 109.46, p <.001, CFI =.96, TFI =.94, RMSEA =.07, SRMR = .04).  The factor loadings for each subscale demonstrated adequate internal consistency (Standardized estimate range: IH = .84-.88; SL = .68 - .74; ER = .48 - .67).  Results from random-intercept models suggested that agency-level effect contributed to the measure’s variance (ICC: Total scale = .18; IH subscale = .22; SL subscale = .21; ER subscale = .14).  Controlling for age, race/ethnicity, job position, experience, education, and agency type (CPS or Home Visiting), workplace environment was strongly associated with job satisfaction (β = .52, p < .001), intent-to-quit (β = -.37, p < .001), and job burnout (β = -.36, p < .001).  Additional multivariate analyses indicated that all three subscales were strongly associated with the three workforce outcomes.

Conclusions and Implications: An initial validation study indicates that this brief measure is a promising assessment of workplace environment that predicts salient workforce outcomes in different social service settings. Pending further replication, this brief measure has practical significance given that it is free, publicly available, and easily integrated into agency self-assessments and multi-site evaluations.  We will discuss its potential application for implementation studies as well as directions for future testing.