One in 10 social workers 'would quit' over stress

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter

image captionSocial workers say the challenges they face are more acute than ever before

The stress of "sharing people's misery" and the dangers of inexperienced staff are leading many social workers to want to quit the profession, a study says.

Nearly one in 10 UK social workers (8%) are considering leaving the job, with over a fifth of these blaming stress or unmanageable caseloads, it adds.

Many blame poor management and too little time with clients.

Community Care magazine and recruitment firm TMP surveyed 2,100 social workers and carried out 20 in-depth interviews.

The research suggests social work has become more demanding, with 94% of those surveyed saying there is more day-to-day pressure on social workers than ever before.


One interviewee said: "My stress levels are perpetually too high and my mental and physical health suffers as a result.

"Most nights I wake up in the night worrying about work I have not had time to do. I struggle to enjoy life outside work as I'm so exhausted."

Another said: "I love social work but sharing people's misery is becoming too much."

The survey also suggested there was a sense that such high stress levels were ignored by bosses.

One social worker said: "With high caseloads and a lack of support, I feel unable to do a good job."

Another added: "There is a consistent disbelief of workers' stress levels, and difficulties in managing such high caseloads."

'Culture of blame'

Another highlighted problems with the culture of her workplace: "I am sick to death of tokenism, political correctness, and a risk averse, process-led and incompetent management driven only by the need to appease Ofsted."

This was reflected by another, who said: "The management structure is top-heavy and the blame culture is still prevalent."

Manager of the British Association of Social Workers England Maris Stratulis said: "Members continue to contact us about poor management and poor support including irregular supervision, limited career development opportunities, and an organisational culture of blame.

"It is critical that employers engage in open dialogue with social workers on a regular basis.

"Employers need to walk the floor, talk face to face with social workers, and dig deep about the key issues that social workers are citing as to why their current organisation is not a good place to work."

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