Workforce Barometer: Feelings from the Frontline
Retaining an engaged workforce is a key objective of the Wide Bay Burnett WorkAbility Qld Action Plan. Gauging the point-in-time sentiments of local workers became a priority focus of the local Working Group recently. Over a period of three weeks, the group worked to circulate links to a questionnaire asking workers to share their feelings on working in the local sector.
The Workforce Barometer: Feelings from the Frontline received 88 responses. There was an almost even representation of sites of already transitioned areas and those beginning their transition journey.
Respondents were asked to provide feedback around topics including their job satisfaction and what impacts it most, their feelings as the NDIS is introduced, and their plans for future mobility.
Specific questions spanned areas such as:
- Opportunities to buddy.
- Opportunities to share with colleagues at meetings.
- Regular social events.
- Quality of communication.
- Their voice and control over decisions, rosters, etc.
- Recognition received for their work.
- The support they felt from others.
- The information they were given.
- Their sense of connectedness and belonging to their team.
The Workforce Barometer also asked about how often people felt creative, isolated, energised, stressed, etc.
The majority of respondents were in support worker roles, with 23 responses given by other roles including service coordinators and managers. The typical respondent had worked in the disability sector for more than 2 years and were females over 45 years of age.
Current workers were mostly attracted to the sector by the desire to help, care, empower and assist others to reach their goals. One respondent stated it as the “desire to help others in obtaining a life they want”. They want to make a difference.
Others had a lived experience of disability in their lives and some noted the desire for a challenge.
A staggering 97% of respondents felt confident to use their own judgement about the best way to give support while on a shift. One person surveyed said that “it is all about listening to what the person wants/needs”. While another respondent said that sometimes I do need to seek reassurance that what I’m doing is right or to clarify what I should do”.
The survey also supplied a lot of areas for the local working groups to explore further, including:
- Why workers felt recognised by their organisation for good work but didn’t note organisational reward, and whether this was important to them.
- The difference in frequency of team meetings in rolled out sites compared to those transitioning, and whether this impacted satisfaction.
- Methods to reduce stress within the workforce.
When asked regarding their intentions for the future, 85% of those surveyed said that they were satisfied working in the sector and wanted to stay. However, some were considering moving to another employer within the sector.
The importance of their work team was highlighted through questions around job satisfaction. Team, culture and co-workers were frequently cited as factors which had the power to detract from satisfaction within support roles.
When asked what keeps people in the sector and gives them the most satisfaction, the most common answer was the satisfaction and enjoyment of working with people with disability. In regards to what gives them the most job satisfaction some respondents said “I love this job, all parts make me feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life”, “being a part of helping clients overcome the barriers presented by their disability and enjoying life”, and “to know that my customers are getting the best from me and my team members and we all support each other to achieve the same goals for the customers in our direct care”.
So, would our current workforce recommend a career in the disability sector to someone who was considering it? According to the vast majority of respondents the answer is YES! The Wide Bay Burnett Working Group will explore results further and seek targeted strategies to make sure worker endorsements of a career in disability continues to remain strong.