SOCIAL WORKERS IN MANAGEMENT: WORK/FAMILY STRESS AND ISSUES OF SELF-CARE
AbstractTraditional approaches to stress adopt narrow and individualistic perspective with little attention paid to the wider organisational, social, political and family factors involved. The intersect of all these factors as well as the symptoms of stress that social work managers experienced were examined as part of a broader study of women in management andoccupational stress. The sample consisted of 30 women managers from diverse racial backgrounds. Ten of these managers were social workers. Both private and public organisations with local, national and international status were included in this study. Data were obtained through the use of a biographical questionnaire, a semi-structured interview schedule, the Type A personality scale and the 'Identifying stress at work' scale. Organisational contributors to occupational stress have been identified as follows: logistical constraints, career development, relationships at work, role in organisation, organisational structure and extra-organisational forces. The social factors, which impacted on the social work manager's experience of stress, were racism and gender discrimination. All the social work managers displayed Type A behaviour. The following sources of stress at the work/family interface were identified: domestic pressures, parental stress, marital discord, bi-cultural role conflict, and spill-over of job/stress into family life. Social work managers displayed physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms of stress. The social work managers used a variety of strategies to cope with pressure and combat stress. Given the nature of the stressors experienced by the social work managers, organisational as well as individual interventions to enhance self-care are recommended.
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