University of Leicester
2016kingrwDSocSci.pdf (3.18 MB)

Helping the Helpers: What factors contribute to health and wellness for Front line staff within a Public sector social services Work environment?

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posted on 2016-12-20, 12:04 authored by Robert Warren King
The purpose of this study was to understand the wellness needs of front line public sector welfare staff within the Canadian neo-liberal welfare state, framed in a public management reform context. Although research has begun in a variety of public sector social service settings, there has been little scrutiny given to those working on the fault-lines of society (Sawchuk, 2013). The research design focused on both quantitative and qualitative tools for understanding the welfare employee experience. Quantitatively, the Perceived Wellness Survey (Adams, Bezner, and Steinhardt, 1997) and the COPE scale (Carver, Scheier, and Weintraub, 1989) were used respectively to generate data on staff wellness perceptions, and coping preferences. Qualitatively, a longitudinal journaling tool was used that allowed staff to record their work behaviors over 40 workdays. Specifically, they were able to record problems experienced, how they responded to them, and what resources were found to be useful. They were also able to rate each day as to level of satisfaction. The results of the study identified the potential impacts of public management reform on welfare state employees, and the critical role played by coping strategies. It also brought into question the relevancy of the holistic paradigm for the welfare work environment within British Columbia. The findings revealed a wellness duality in that the problems staff identified, the responses to those problems, and the resources utilized all had a common foundation. Social/relational factors were found to be both part of the problem and part of the solution when considering employee wellness, with age and gender influencing participant responses.



Beck, Vanessa; Venter, Katharine

Date of award


Author affiliation

Centre for Labour Market Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DSocSci



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