“Social workers across this province are struggling to deal with unbearable workloads, massive stress, and toxic workplace environments. The survey results quantify what we have been hearing from social workers. It is truly alarming.” ― Jerry Earle, NAPE President
St. John’s (9 Mar. 2020) ― March is National Social Work Month – a special time to recognize the demanding and essential work that social workers perform every day in communities across our province. It is also a time to reflect and take action to improve the working conditions and lives of those who give so much of themselves to this incredibly demanding and vital work.
Survey gives insight about strain on social workers
The Newfoundland & Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) proudly represents over 500 social workers who, through the training and vital services they deliver, contribute to a better life for some of our province’s most vulnerable individuals. In January 2020, NAPE/NUPGE conducted a survey to gain better insight into the challenges faced by members in their occupation as social workers. The anonymous survey was conducted online and received 347 responses.
“Social workers give so much of themselves in the face of overwhelming workloads, threats of violence, expanded responsibilities, and the stress and strain from the emotional and physical toll that their work has on them,” said Jerry Earle, NAPE President. “Despite these obstacles, these workers continue to deliver the highest level of care, compassion, and support to their clients and their communities.”
Responses paint a picture of increased workloads and stressful working conditions with little response from management:
- 73% said that their workloads have increased by ‘a lot’ in the past five years.
- 71% said they find their jobs extremely (32%) or very stressful (39%)
- 77% said they do site or home visits alone
- 66% disagreed that their jobs allowed them to have good work/life balance
- 67% experienced or witnessed violence in the job in the past year alone (2/3 of those were the victims of that violence)
- 55% said they were concerned about their safety at work
- 79% said that their concerns were not being heard or addressed by their employer
- 66% reported their work environment as being toxic
- 79% said that the overall situation for social workers is getting much worse (34%) or getting worse (45%) in recent years
Survey results quantify concerns members have been voicing
“Social workers across this province are struggling to deal with unbearable workloads, massive stress, and toxic workplace environments,” said Earle. “The survey results quantify what we have been hearing from social workers. It is truly alarming.”
“Action must be taken by the government to address the concerns of these workers immediately,” said Earle. “Anything short of concrete action is a disservice to these hard-working and dedicated workers, the people and communities they serve, and the province as a whole.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE