Growing Older in Social Work: Perspective on Systems of Support to Extend Working Lives – Findings from a UK Survey

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Abstract

Social work, like many other human services professions, is ageing. This article reports and discusses the findings of a UK social work survey undertaken in 2018 (1397 responses). It investigated how organisational policies and individual factors were affecting individual social workers’ decisions about working in later life. The survey measured: 1) Social workers’ attitudes to ageing at work and self-reported planning around retirement; 2) Mental health and wellbeing, quality of working life, and home and work interface; 3) Intention to leave work and retirement planning. Statistical analysis enabled examination of how the interrelationship of these factors and relevant individual characteristics interact within the systemic work environment. Findings revealed that all participants had considered factors that might cause them to retire early. Framing the findings in an ecological conceptual model suggests that age-inclusive professional and organisational cultures, age-positive Human Resource Management, support from line managers, fair working conditions and the ability to manage health and wellbeing, might enable social workers to extend their working lives in line with government policy. These findings provide insights for social work workforce policy makers, and for employers to assist in their development of organizational and individual adjustments to sustain wellbeing in the social work profession.
LanguageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Early online date6 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jan 2020

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working life
Social Work
social work
retirement planning
social worker
Retirement
profession
work planning
Organizational Policy
Organizational Culture
Social Adjustment
Aptitude
human resource management
organizational culture
working conditions
Administrative Personnel
work environment
government policy
statistical analysis
employer

Cite this

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title = "Growing Older in Social Work: Perspective on Systems of Support to Extend Working Lives – Findings from a UK Survey",
abstract = "Social work, like many other human services professions, is ageing. This article reports and discusses the findings of a UK social work survey undertaken in 2018 (1397 responses). It investigated how organisational policies and individual factors were affecting individual social workers’ decisions about working in later life. The survey measured: 1) Social workers’ attitudes to ageing at work and self-reported planning around retirement; 2) Mental health and wellbeing, quality of working life, and home and work interface; 3) Intention to leave work and retirement planning. Statistical analysis enabled examination of how the interrelationship of these factors and relevant individual characteristics interact within the systemic work environment. Findings revealed that all participants had considered factors that might cause them to retire early. Framing the findings in an ecological conceptual model suggests that age-inclusive professional and organisational cultures, age-positive Human Resource Management, support from line managers, fair working conditions and the ability to manage health and wellbeing, might enable social workers to extend their working lives in line with government policy. These findings provide insights for social work workforce policy makers, and for employers to assist in their development of organizational and individual adjustments to sustain wellbeing in the social work profession.",
author = "{Mc Fadden}, Paula and John Mallett and {Mackin (now Gillen)}, Patricia",
year = "2020",
month = "1",
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doi = "10.1093/bjsw/bcz165",
language = "English",
journal = "British Journal of Social Work",
issn = "0045-3102",

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N2 - Social work, like many other human services professions, is ageing. This article reports and discusses the findings of a UK social work survey undertaken in 2018 (1397 responses). It investigated how organisational policies and individual factors were affecting individual social workers’ decisions about working in later life. The survey measured: 1) Social workers’ attitudes to ageing at work and self-reported planning around retirement; 2) Mental health and wellbeing, quality of working life, and home and work interface; 3) Intention to leave work and retirement planning. Statistical analysis enabled examination of how the interrelationship of these factors and relevant individual characteristics interact within the systemic work environment. Findings revealed that all participants had considered factors that might cause them to retire early. Framing the findings in an ecological conceptual model suggests that age-inclusive professional and organisational cultures, age-positive Human Resource Management, support from line managers, fair working conditions and the ability to manage health and wellbeing, might enable social workers to extend their working lives in line with government policy. These findings provide insights for social work workforce policy makers, and for employers to assist in their development of organizational and individual adjustments to sustain wellbeing in the social work profession.

AB - Social work, like many other human services professions, is ageing. This article reports and discusses the findings of a UK social work survey undertaken in 2018 (1397 responses). It investigated how organisational policies and individual factors were affecting individual social workers’ decisions about working in later life. The survey measured: 1) Social workers’ attitudes to ageing at work and self-reported planning around retirement; 2) Mental health and wellbeing, quality of working life, and home and work interface; 3) Intention to leave work and retirement planning. Statistical analysis enabled examination of how the interrelationship of these factors and relevant individual characteristics interact within the systemic work environment. Findings revealed that all participants had considered factors that might cause them to retire early. Framing the findings in an ecological conceptual model suggests that age-inclusive professional and organisational cultures, age-positive Human Resource Management, support from line managers, fair working conditions and the ability to manage health and wellbeing, might enable social workers to extend their working lives in line with government policy. These findings provide insights for social work workforce policy makers, and for employers to assist in their development of organizational and individual adjustments to sustain wellbeing in the social work profession.

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