• July/August 2015
  • Vol. 16, No. 6

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Self-Efficacy and Retaining Agency Workers

Child welfare agencies and researchers alike have been working to address the problem of burnout and high rates of job turnover among child welfare professionals, both of which can have negative effects on outcomes for children and families. A recently published article in the journal Advances in Social Work examines the role of worker self-efficacy in predicting worker retention and job performance.

The term "self-efficacy" is used to refer to "people's belief in their capacity to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to exercise control over given events." Studies in other fields indicate that high self-efficacy is related to greater job satisfaction, better job performance, lower job burnout, and better well-being. Studies in the field of child welfare found positive associations between self-efficacy and job retention. The researchers in this study collected data from a sample of 395 child welfare workers, with the following goals:

  • Develop a measure of job preparedness to assess worker confidence (self-efficacy) for child welfare job duties
  • Explore these levels of self-efficacy at the time workers begin their jobs
  • Examine factors that predict self-efficacy

The researchers developed the Level of Preparedness Scale (LOPS) to gauge new hires' feelings of preparedness for undertaking particular job tasks. Analysis showed that levels of self-efficacy can change over time, and those levels are influenced by the work environment. In addition, levels of self-efficacy can be predicted to a certain degree by certain characteristics of new hires, such as level of education, prior work experience, and the type of preservice training received. The article also includes a review of the literature on self-efficacy in child welfare professionals.

To read more about this study, access the article "Self-Efficacy in Newly-Hired Child Welfare Workers," by D. Cherry, B. Dalton, and A. Dugan, Advances in Social Work, 15(2), 2014, at https://journals.iupui.edu/index.php/advancesinsocialwork/article/view/12140.

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