Session: Equally Essential: Findings of Employee Experiences and Research Processes during COVID-19 (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

197 Equally Essential: Findings of Employee Experiences and Research Processes during COVID-19

Saturday, January 15, 2022: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marquis BR Salon 13, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Work and Work-Life Policies and Programs
Symposium Organizer:
Elyssa Schroeder, MSSW, University of Georgia
Savannah Downing, MA, University of Georgia
The COVID-19 pandemic created a new rhetoric around essential workers, yet many social workers, support staff, and other employees working through the pandemic were left to balance their job responsibilities and personal fears outside of this designation with varying degrees of structural guidance. This symposium provides attendees insight into the unique challenges for support staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how that translated into job satisfaction and personal well-being. Each of these papers reflect an exploratory study focusing on a particular segment of workers' experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first paper discusses the importance of understanding medical social workers complex roles within the healthcare system as auxiliary staff through semi-structured qualitative interviews. The second paper presents domestic violence shelter advocates and leadership's perception of safety and well-being for shelter residents and themselves through a national survey distributed by state-level coalitions. Lastly, the third paper discusses job demands and resources available to non-teaching support staff at a large university.

As the pandemic caused research programs to shift or temporarily stall, each of these studies deployed methods designed specifically to collect data within the physical constraints inherent within the pandemic (e.g., lack of face-to-face contact for interviews and focus groups, increased risk to participants, departmental and university regulations, limited outreach methods). Lessons learned and future recommendations will be discussed in relation to virtual and online data collection methods.

Taken together, these three papers represent a burgeoning narrative of disproportionate access to organizational support based on field of work, personal supportive networks, and management differences. Common recommendations throughout all studies focus on organizational and management policies, protocols, and transparency, as well as agency-specific suggestions. Findings from these studies inform how social work and other supportive fields can buttress their employees and organizations for future crises as the barriers between home and work life become thinner.

* noted as presenting author
"We're Kind of on the Back Burner": Psychological Distress and Coping during COVID-19
Terri Lewinson, PhD, Georgia State University; Tiffany Washington, PhD, University of Georgia
Sheltering during COVID-19: Domestic Violence Shelter Workers' Experiences during the Early Stages of the Pandemic
Jennie Pless, MSW, University of Georgia; Elyssa Schroeder, MSSW, University of Georgia; Y. Joon Choi, PhD, School of Social Work
Effects of COVID-19 Related Stress on Non-Teaching University Support Staff
Oluwayomi Paseda, MSW, Univeristy of Georgia; Jay D. O'Shields, MSW, University of Georgia; Caroline Sharkey, MSW, University of Georgia; Christopher Strickland, University of Georgia; Elyssa Schroeder, MSSW, University of Georgia
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