Session: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Frontline Human Service Workers: Quality of Jobs, Employment Status, and Working Conditions (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

96 The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Frontline Human Service Workers: Quality of Jobs, Employment Status, and Working Conditions

Friday, January 13, 2023: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Valley of the Sun E, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Work and Work-Life Policies and Programs
Symposium Organizer:
Hyojin Cho, MSW, University of Chicago
Cheryl Hyde, PhD, Tempe University
The COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented impacts on labor markets and workers globally. In its early phase millions of workers lost jobs, and marginalized workers faced disproportionate risks of job insecurity (Bartik et al., 2020; Dias et al., 2020). More recently, workers are leaving their jobs at a record rate, and poor working conditions are reported as major drivers of turnover decisions (Pew Research Center, 2022). The pandemic has highlighted fundamental quality and equity issues of employment and working conditions in the broader labor market. However, little is known about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected frontline social service workers' job quality. What are the unique challenges that emerged for this segment of the labor force during the pandemic? What chronic problems of social service job quality has the pandemic further exacerbated? How are pandemic impacts unevenly experienced among frontline human service workers? The four papers in this symposium bring a quality and equity lens to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on frontline human service workers.

The first paper presents findings from an exploratory cross-sectional survey of social workers in Ontario, Canada from June 2020 to September 2020. Findings show that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted social workers' employment status in various ways through loss of employment, redevelopment to new settings and early retirement.

The second paper examines pandemic-related changes to social services employment and workplaces, strains from those changes; and individual, job, and organizational correlates of job satisfaction in a sample of human service workers from the NJ-NY-PA tri-state area. Results suggest that while personal challenges from the pandemic loom large, organizational initiatives and job aspects also relate to the experience of employment.

The third paper examines the association between nonstandard work shifts (NWS) and social workers' burnouts in China during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using survey data collected from 537 frontline social workers, the study finds the pervasiveness of NWS during the pandemic and the significant associations between involuntary NWS and higher burnout.

The fourth paper examines the unequal labor market experience of frontline social workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using US monthly Current Population Survey data, the study finds that workers from racial/ethnic minorities, with lower educational backgrounds, who did not work remotely and who worked part-time are more likely to leave human service jobs than comparison groups.

This symposium advances knowledge on how the pandemic may be (re)shaping the quality of social work jobs, and incorporates a cross-national component helpful for grasping the range of impacts of this global challenge. The discussion will focus on the implication of study findings for equity and sustainability of social service jobs and workplaces in the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion will also consider how social work researchers can contribute important knowledge and advocacy to support better job quality for frontline social workers as we emerge from the pandemic.

* noted as presenting author
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Social Workers at the Frontline: A Survey of Canadian Social Workers
Rachelle Ashcroft, PhD, University of Toronto; Deepy Sur, PhD, Ontario Association of Social Workers; Andrea Greenblatt, University of Toronto; Peter Donahue, PhD, King’s University College, Western University
Nonstandard Work Shifts and Social Workers' Burnout in China during the COVID-19
Huiying Jin, MSW, Rutgers University; Bin Tu, PhD, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies; Chien-Chung Huang, PhD, Rutgers University
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