Social workers deserve more appreciation for their hard work

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Angelica Tejada

Many have overlooked the fact that March is Social Workers Month alongside Women’s History Month, which, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, should not be the case.

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need to give recognition to the essential workers who truly change the lives of others. Among these professions are those in the medical field, teachers and social workers.

Simultaneously as a social worker’s responsibilities become more important, it also becomes a more demanding job to which employers must recognize and reward.

The Harvard Business Review conducted various studies with the nonprofit organization What Works for Children’s Social Care, which focused on the strategies that employers can use to keep their employees in the social work field motivated. The results align with the reasons why those in the social work field pursue it in the first place: because they care and want to genuinely help others.

“While many organizations (especially in the private sector) have traditionally used monetary incentives to boost employee morale and performance, recent research suggests that symbolic awards — interventions such as congratulatory cards, public recognition, and certificates — can significantly increase intrinsic motivation, performance, and retention rates,” according to the Harvard Business Review.

Instead of focusing on the amount of money they will be making yearly, social workers focus on the passion they feel toward making a difference.

However, the amount of money that social workers earn does not align with the amount of mental, physical and emotional effort that they put into their jobs.

“As practitioners, social workers are trained to help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. They are employed to effect positive change with individuals, families, groups and entire communities,” according to the National Association of Social Workers.

Social workers are vital to the well-being of individuals and families, and they must be recognized for their important work and be paid what they truly deserve.

Moreover, employers can make sure that their employees understand that they are greatly appreciated for their work, which has gotten more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.

President of the National Association of Black Social Workers Melissa Haley, who has been practicing social work for more than 25 years, spoke to WebMD about the impact the pandemic has had on social workers.

“A major part of what we do is meet people where they are. So, we go into the community. We go into the homes. We go into the schools. We go into the hospitals. And we are there with people at their time of need and during their most precious times and challenging times in their lives,” Haley said to WebMD. “So, the pandemic has forced us to be nimble, to make some adjustments to the way that we have traditionally done work.”

On top of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the job, it has also affected the personal lives of the social workers in unprecedented ways.

Thus, employers can make sure that their employees understand and feel that they are appreciated for their hard work yearly, not just during Social Workers Month.

How the employer goes about communicating their gratitude toward their employee can take many forms, but what is most important is that they are shown the support and strength that they transcend to many daily.