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Corrosion of trust: Violation of psychological contracts as a reason for turnover amongst social workers
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare.
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7405-0025
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5928-7988
2017 (English)In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, Vol. 7, no 1, 67-79 p., ISSN: 2156-857XArticle in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Staff shortage in the social sector is a serious problem in several countriesand the high turnover rate of professional social workers presents a majorchallenge to the professional field. Social workers distinguish themselves asa particularly exposed occupational group, reporting higher workloads andmore difficult demands in comparison with other human service workers.Inspired by psychological contract theory, the objective of this study wasto describe social workers’ turnover processes that lead to a decision to quitafter a perceived violation of a psychological contract. Thirty-one interviewswere conducted with former statutory social workers who had voluntarilyresigned from their jobs during the preceding year. The analysis identifiedfour themes in the turnover processes stemming from perceptions oforganisational failure to fulfil promises concerning the provision of: (1) abalance between demands and resources at work, (2) a balance betweenefforts and rewards, (3) organisational professional ethics, and (4) responsiblehuman resource practices. The results highlight how organisational responsesto work-related dissatisfactions by social workers seem to enhance theirconviction of psychological contract breaches and perceptions of contractviolations, resulting in turnover. An important conclusion is that public sectoremployers need to reconsider their personnel strategies and practices inorder to start rebuilding trust and creating a more positive work climate.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 7, no 1, 67-79 p., ISSN: 2156-857X
Keyword [en]
Social workers; turnover; psychological contract violation; work conditions
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Working Life Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-35279DOI: 10.1080/2156857X.2016.1203814OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-35279DiVA: diva2:1092561
Available from: 2017-05-03 Created: 2017-05-03 Last updated: 2017-05-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Trust issues: Welfare workers' relationship to their organisation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trust issues: Welfare workers' relationship to their organisation
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the past decades, the public sector has undergone important organisational policy changes, referred to as New Public Management. These management strategies focus on continuous cost improvements and rationalisation of operations. In the aftermath of these policy changes, we have seen reports of increased work demands and less professional autonomy amongst welfare workers. Against this background, the thesis sets out to explore welfare workers’ relationship to their organisation. This was done by investigating how psychosocial and organisational factors related to a number of outcomes assumed to be indicators of the quality of the relationship. Theoretically, the thesis was inspired by psychological contract theory, but also relates to other concepts and theories found in organisational research. The thesis is based on four empirical studies, all of which relate to how welfare workers have perceived their relationship to their organisation.

Study I aimed to qualitatively investigate how turnover processes evolved amongst statutory social workers who voluntarily had resigned from their jobs. The results showed that dismissive/admonishing organisational responses to the social workers’ perceived work-related dissatisfactions reinforced their beliefs in psychological contract violation, which led to resignation.

Study II and III employed national web-based questionnaire data collected from employees and managers in the social services. The results of Studies II-III showed that if organisations want welfare workers to stop considering exit, want to counteract silence, want to reduce stress-related ill health and want to improve organisational commitment and job satisfaction, management strategies need to be developed that lead to fewer conflicting demands, a reasonable workload and a greater professional autonomy. The results also showed that the organisation’s open climate and attitude towards employees was of great importance for the studied outcome variables.

Study IV was based on questionnaire data from different occupational groups in two municipal organisations. The results showed that organisational resources explained additional variance in organisational identification and organisational pride, beyond the contributions of workgroup resources.

From the findings of this thesis, it can be concluded that the psychosocial demands need to be balanced with organisational resources in order to (re)build a trustworthy employee-organisation relationship. Further, organisations need to reconsider their human resource management strategies and practices, e.g., by enabling a continuous and open dialogue between the strategic and operational levels. Such changes may lead to balanced psychological contracts between welfare workers and the organisation that can improve the organisation’s stability, continuity and, ultimately, the quality of the welfare services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University, 2017
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 231
Keyword
employee-organisation relationship, new public management, psychological contracts, job demands, job resources, organisational factors, trust
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Working Life Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-35282 (URN)978-91-7485-330-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-06-20, Beta, Mälardalens högskola, Västerås, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-05-05 Created: 2017-05-03 Last updated: 2017-07-10Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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