Social workers and most employees use the word “love when we first start our new jobs. A regular pay schedule allows us to pay our monthly student loans when due. We learn and experience the difference between what the books say and practice realities. We get to “help people” which is the reason many of us went into the social work profession. The ability to help those in need feels good.
Our honeymoon with work lasts for about six months to a year. Everything is new and exciting. We get to know the intricacies of the inner workings of our organizations. The employer and employee become aware of each other’s interests, strengths, and quirks. The honeymoon is fun. The courtship continues. We love, love, love what we do and the organization we are with.
Then something happens. Longevity with an organization provides an awareness of the shortcomings. We begin to compare our goals, interests, and desires with that of the organization. When they do not match, we become frustrated and the relationship becomes strained. In some instances, the relationship between the employer and employee becomes so frustrating that it sours. Think of a marriage that lasts although the two parties can no longer stand each other. Is your work relationship the same?
Are you a social worker who continues to work in a situation that is no longer satisfying? Have you started using four-letter words other than “love” or “like” to describe your relationship with work?
Many social workers cannot quit good-paying jobs. We need them to sustain our modest lifestyles. However, after five or more years on the job, some feel burned out from unmanageable workloads, hit or miss supervision, and political jockeying. Some may feel depressed because of vicarious trauma. Stress responses may be in overdrive causing edgy or anxious feelings when at work. A few social workers just check out emotionally, opting to go through the motions putting in their “eight” and doing no more than is necessary to get through.
Dissatisfaction with the workplace will continue until the social work honestly answers specific questions. Am I compelled to do this work? Am I demonstrating competence? How comfortable am I in the context of the work environment? These questions jump-start the re-tooling process for every social worker with over five years of experience.
What questions are you asking yourself?