Staff Development within an organization is key to promoting professionalism and keeping current on professional development. It is also another means to provide incentives that are low cost or cost neutral to the organization, aside from time away from work activities, but are meaningful to the social worker, limiting out-of-pocket expenses for maintaining their professional license. Additionally, it is a tool for morale building and to address specific issues as they arise within the organizational culture, both those that directly and indirectly impact client care.
During times of change or noted trends in a community, such as closing of a key industry or factory, development of a major health issue, or an upsurge in violence, staff development could offer the perfect opportunity for a supervisor to develop or bring in an expert on the subject area to provide training and development in the topic area, offering insight on the impact of the issue and specific knowledge, skills and strategies for addressing issues that directly impact the organization and its clients. It may also be a part of long-range planning for bigger issues, such as disaster planning.
Staff development assists the organization in forward planning on multiple levels when change occurs or negative events happen. Attending to professional development of social workers can reduce stress by augmenting skills and resources, as well as creating a greater sense of community and support. When negative environmental impact can be anticipated, professional development can assist in bolstering targeted interventions provide the opportunity to network with others for appropriate referrals and resource building.
A large aerospace engineering company anticipated layoffs in the coming weeks. The sheer numbers anticipated would impact the communityÕs economy on all levels, with layoffs occurring throughout the company, from plant workers to senior executives. The impact would be felt by not only the company, but also supporting industry businesses (i.e. suppliers) and community businesses (e.g. restaurants, grocery stores, retail chains, movie theaters). The Office of Unemployment anticipated an influx of people filing claims, and the local director was concerned about the impact on his caseworkers and front-line staff when the news broke and people began arriving. He met with his management and human resource staff and organized professional development to provide training and development for the staff to deal with what he knew would be a stressful period. Additionally, he networked with the local welfare office and community organizations that provide job-related services to assure his office has the most current information to provide. In the process, he learned about additional resources and was able to streamline referrals for clients in need of retraining and received information for veterans. When the training was offered, he had a plan in place for addressing the influx of new claims, offering support for increased employee stress levels and community professionals who were willing to provide monthly in-services to staff on issues such as stress management, addressing workplace conflicts, anxiety, anger management and related topics.
In the example:
The director took proactive steps to build the staff up and prepare them for a situation that would likely take a toll on them. Even if the incident were avoided, the staff would benefit and the community links made would benefit the overall system. The demonstration of professionalism is entirely consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics, with functional demonstration of role modeling, staff support, collaboration and leadership.
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