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February 2013Vol. 14, No. 1Performance-Based Contracts and Worker Retention

An article recently published in the Administration in Social Work journal examines how employment with private child welfare agencies operating under performance-based contracts can affect worker attitudes related to job retention. Because performance-based contracts link agency funding to achievement-oriented outcomes, workers employed by agencies operating under such contracts may experience increased pressure to meet deadlines for achieving permanency, finalizing adoptions, or finding kinship caregivers for children in care. The authors of the study aim to inform agencies about the issue of employee retention and shed light on factors related to workers' intention to quit their jobs. 

The researchers received surveys from 152 child welfare caseworkers and family support workers employed by three large private child welfare agencies operating under performance-based contracts. The surveys examined a number of worker attitudes, including:

  • Job satisfaction, defined as the extent to which a worker likes his/her job
  • Organizational commitment, which reflects worker dedication to the agency based on shared values, mission, and goals
  • Work-family conflict, occurring when work-related demands interfere with responsibilities in the home
  • Family-work conflict, occurring when family responsibilities interfere with on employees' abilities to perform work activities

The researchers examined how the aforementioned attitudes and conflicts were related to employees' intentions to quit their jobs in the near future. Findings unveiled two significant predictors of worker intention to quit: low job satisfaction and high levels of work-family conflict. The authors provide a discussion of the results, implications for agency practice, and implications for future research.

"Work Attitudes and Intention to Quit Among Workers in Private Child Welfare Agencies Operating Under Performance-Based Contracts," by Michelle Levy, John Poertner, and Alics Lieberman, Administration in Social Work, 36(2), 2012 is available for purchase here: