Title and Purpose
Internationally, researchers and practitioners continuously search for knowledge on how to improve workforce wellbeing and retention in the social work profession. The span of interest includes (but isn’t limited to) preparation for practice; early career supports; supervision; training and CPD (Continuous Professional Development including new ways of doing social work, such as digital social work); retention, turnover and inexperience in teams; burnout and resilience in practitioners (and in organizational systems); workforce well-being; working conditions; fitness to practice; workforce demographics (e.g. age, gender and ethnicity) and demographic changes in the social work profession; social work workforce concerns across structures of statutory, voluntary, and private sectors; and emerging differences in workforce concerns across Europe and internationally. The establishment of the WRSIG will enable a network of social work academics who are interested in this broad research area, ensuring they have a platform to connect ideas and collaborate on studies, publications and funding applications. We aim to do this for the following important reasons.
The purpose of the the WRSIG is to provide a forum for members to:
Aim of WRSIG
The overarching aim of the Workforce Research Special Interest Group (WRSIG) of the European Social Work Research Association, is to support networking opportunities and ensure the effective use of social work workforce research and knowledge to inform practitioners, employers, educators, professional bodies and regulators to aim to create knowledge to inform optimal conditions to support the workforce and ensure best practice for service users, families and carers and groups.
Objectives of SIG
The main objectives of this network are as follows.
To inform practice, education (social work curriculum including social pedagogy and other signature pedagogy), policy and regulation for the social work profession.
Scope of SIG
The scope of the WRSIG, is to reach into and connect research and practice by connecting researchers with each other. We will develop a framework for knowledge transfer to relevant stakeholders including employers, professional bodies, regulators and policy makers to ensure that evidence informs curriculum, educators, students and employers. Ultimately the WRSIG is a mechanism to elucidate workforce wellbeing knowledge through responsibilising all stakeholders and upholding best practice for workforce well-being and improve service quality for service users
Dr Paula McFadden, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Ulster University Northern Ireland
Dr Pia Tham, Associate Professor in Social Work, Gavle University, Sweden
Dr. Maija Mänttäri-van der Kuip, Senior lecturer, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
ECSWR 2023 Vilnius SIG Event
ESWRA – Workforce Research Special Interest Group (WRSIG) Abstract Vilnius 2024
Convenors: Dr Paula McFadden, Ulster University, Northern Ireland, Dr Pia Tham, Uppsala University, Sweden and Dr Maija Mänttäri-van der Kuip, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Title: Social worker wellbeing and health: Responding to retention and turnover issues in social work using international perspectives with multiple methodological approaches.
The WRSIG was first formed in 2020 and has over 40 members from a range of international countries. We extend our WRSIG to those unable to attend the conference using Zoom technology, which provides access to research for those without funding, particularly those in the practitioner community who don’t get access to research via conference attendance. This is particularly important as the research from the WRSIG is directly relevant to practitioner wellbeing. We feel this action is true to our social justice principles whilst also aligning with the overall conference theme “Envisioning Future: Social Work Research and Discourse in the Age of Industry 4.0”.
The research currently conducted by members of the WRSIG group covers a range methodological approach to multiple topic areas associated with social worker wellbeing and health. These include educational and practice issues, preparation for practice, workforce challenges and working conditions (including ‘Safe Staffing in Social Work’), social worker wellbeing and coping, physiological responses to stress, supervisory supports for social workers, knowledge acquisition for social workers, emotional and social wellbeing, social media challenges for social workers, and resilience and burnout in social workers. The group proposes a number of presentations for a full day at the ESWRA Vilnius SIG event on the 17th April 2024, which will provide members with current evidence from workforce wellbeing, across a number of cultural and geographic contexts internationally.