Measuring organizational effectiveness to develop strategies to promote retention in public child welfare

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<ul><li><p>dste</p><p>s ars isIn tatios toothtistdevelopment of strategies for organizational improvement. Data were also ana-</p><p>child wlic Humover raup to 6</p><p>systematic review of 29 recent child welfare studies focused on reten- Staff turnover is expensive. One study calculated a cost of $10,000 per</p><p>Children and Youth Services Review 34 (2012) 289295</p><p>Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect</p><p>Children and Youth</p><p>setion found both personal factors (professional commitment, previouswork experience, education, job satisfaction, efcacy, burnout, emo-tional exhaustion, and role overload/conict/stress) and organizationalfactors (salary, reasonable workload, supervisory support, coworkersupport, opportunities for advancement, and valuing workers) contrib-uted to retention. Some of these factors are within the control of the or-ganization to adjust without signicant resources, while others are not.</p><p>More recently focus has shifted to measurement of intent to re-main employed, and the identication of factors associated withthose who remain employed as opposed to those who leave employ-</p><p>vacancy in 1995 dollars (Graef &amp; Hill, 2000). The impact of turnoveron children and families receiving services has been widely discussed(e.g. U.S. General Accounting Ofce, 2003). Staff turnover in thishighly stressful yet critical eld tends to have a snowball effect.Responding to crises in uncovered caseloads of vacant positions fallsto the staff remaining, multiplying their workload and their frustration.It is certainly in the best interest of agencies to identify those factorsmost powerfully associated with intent to remain employed withtheir particular staff, assess for regional differences, and to use this in-formation to plan strategies based on addressing those factors so asment in child welfare (Ellett, 2000; Ellett, C2006; Ellett et al., 2003; Landsman, 2001). Msociated with studying actual retention and tand other human services agencies has been</p><p> Corresponding author.E-mail address: crystal.collinscamargo@louisville.ed</p><p>0190-7409/$ see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Alldoi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.10.0277% (Cyphers, 2005). Thers associated with turn-ing, and Lane (2005a,b)</p><p>agencies makes sense if they seek to retain competent, committedstaff.</p><p>Agencies have signicant reasons for wanting to promote retention.</p><p>literature has documented a number of factoover. To summarize, Zlotnick, DePanlis, Dain1. Introduction</p><p>The issue of staff turnover in publicwell documented. The American Pubsurvey of states revealed national turntection workers, with states reportingThis case study presents an example of how ongoing measurement of organizational effectiveness can beused as a strategy for organizational improvement over time in the child welfare system.</p><p> 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.</p><p>elfare agencies has beenan Services Associationte of 22.1% for child pro-</p><p>Barak, Nissly, &amp; Levin, 2001; Zlotnick et al., 2005a,b). Some studieshave found that intention to leave is the strongest predictor of actualturnover (Alexander, Lichtenstein, Oh, &amp; Ullman; 1998; Mor Barak etal., 2001). The measurement of such proxy constructs in conjunctionwith factors which are within the locus of control of child welfareIntent to remain employedChild welfarelyzed regionally and based on urban/suburban/rural status to enable development of targeted approaches.Organizational effectivenessEmployee retention</p><p>employed. A number of stapublic agency for use in theMeasuring organizational effectiveness topublic child welfare</p><p>Crystal Collins-Camargo a,, Chad D. Ellett b, Cathy Lea University of Louisville, United Statesb CDE Research Associates, Inc., United Statesc Kentucky Department for Community Based Services, United States</p><p>a b s t r a c ta r t i c l e i n f o</p><p>Article history:Received 21 July 2011Received in revised form 25 October 2011Accepted 29 October 2011Available online 6 November 2011</p><p>Keywords:</p><p>Public child welfare agencielated to all of these outcomeproxy for actual retention.using the Survey of OrganizEllett, &amp; Rugutt, 2003) scaleculture, communication and</p><p>j ourna l homepage: www.e lollins-Camargo, &amp; Ellett,ethodological issues as-urnover in child welfarepreviously noted (Mor</p><p>u (C. Collins-Camargo).</p><p>rights reserved.evelop strategies to promote retention in</p><p>r c</p><p>e under pressure to improve organizational, practice and client outcomes. Re-the retention of staff. Employee intent to remain employed may be used as ahis study public child welfare staff in one Midwestern state were surveyednal Excellence (Lauderdale, 1999) and the Intent to Remain Employed (Ellett,assess the extent to which constructs such as perceptions of organizationaler areas of organizational effectiveness were associated with intent to remainically signicant relationships were identied which were presented to the</p><p>Services Review</p><p>v ie r .com/ locate /ch i ldyouthnot to waste limited resources.Theeld of childwelfare has been under appropriate pressure tomea-</p><p>sure and improve outcomes for children and families through the Childand Family Services Review process (U.S. General Accounting Ofce,2004). Many states continue to struggle to improve their performancein these reviews. Although achieving timely permanency for children infoster care is a federally mandated priority, of the 32 states that hadcompleted their Child and Family Services Review in 2007 and 2008 an</p></li><li><p>290 C. Collins-Camargo et al. / Children and Youth Services Review 34 (2012) 289295average of 40% of cases reviewed across states achieved PermanencyOutcome 1: children have permanency and stability in their livingsituations (Administration for Children and Families, n.d.). Emphasis isneeded, in practice and in research related to which strategies on thefrontline and organizational level promote outcome achievement(Barth, 2008).</p><p>Public child welfare organizations are faced with constant changedue to social and political inuences, and the complicated needs ofthe client population (Cohen &amp; Austin, 1994; Morrison, 1997). Childwelfare agencies are increasingly more focused on improving perfor-mance and accountability (Weigensberg, 2009), yet research into theability of the public child protection system to achieve its outcomeshas been scant (Poertner, McDonald, &amp; Murray, 2000; Waldfogel,2000). Agencies with limited resources must determine where tofocus their efforts within the organization in order to improve the abil-ity and likelihood of frontline staff to provide effective services accord-ing to their selected practicemodel aswell as evaluate the impact of theservices being provided on outcomes.</p><p>A number of studies have linked organizational culture and climateto the achievement of client outcomes and organizational effectivenessin a variety of human service settings (Glisson, 2007; Glisson, Dukes, &amp;Green, 2006; Glisson &amp; Hemmelgarn, 1998). Workplace climate hasbeen shown to inuence openness to change and innovation(Anderson &amp; West, 1998; Birleson, 1999). There is a need for furtherstudy of how to assess social context in organizations, the dimensionsof social context that are related to the implementation of effective ser-vices, and the identication of organizational interventions that can cre-ate the sort of social contexts that support the implementation ofeffective services (Glisson, 2007).</p><p>This article describes a study in which one largely rural state useda standardized measure of organizational effectiveness as an overallassessment of the agency and its functioning from the perspectiveof their staff, and paired it with a measure of intent to remainemployed. Of particular focus was the organizational culture of theagency and the extent to which organizational culture would corre-late with a measure of intent to remain in child welfare. Over two de-cades ago Schein dened organizational culture as a pattern of basicassumptions invented, discovered, or developed by a given group asit learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internalintegration that has worked well enough to be considered valid andtherefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to per-ceive, think, and feel in relation to the problems. (1985, p. 9) For or-ganizational culture, the unit of analysis is the organization or largedepartments within it as an entity as opposed to the work unit(Burke and Litwin, 1992). However in large agencies, organizationalculture is translated, interpreted, and selectively observed withinthe frontline work unit (Cohen &amp; Austin, 1994; Martin &amp; Siehl,1983). Research has positively linked organizational culture to childwelfare staff retention (Ellett &amp; Millar, 2001); quality of services, con-sumer satisfaction, and client outcomes (Glisson &amp; Hemmelgarn,1998), and self-efcacy in child welfare tasks and case outcomes(Collins-Camargo, 2005).</p><p>Recently, Shim (2010) found the differential effect of organizationalculture, specically in the construct of organizational emphasis on re-wards, and organizational climate, specically in the level of emotionalexhaustion of staff. Organizational climate has been dened as staff'sshared perception of their work environment (e.g. Verbeke, Volgering,&amp; Hessels, 1998), and Glisson recently categorizes it into stressful, func-tional or engaged climates (2007) which could be interpreted to bemost inuencedwithin the frontlinework unit reporting to a supervisorwho in turn helps promote such a tone. In the current study, aspects ofboth culture and climate are most likely at play, however, focus of theanalysis is primarily on those constructs which may be inuenced onthe organizational and regional, rather than frontline, levels.</p><p>Based on the literature, and the state child welfare organization's</p><p>desire to improve both employee outcomes such as retention andultimately outcomes for children and families such as safety, perma-nency and well-being, the study was designed on an assumptionthat organizational life, culture and climate are related to employeeoutcomes (in this case, intent to remain employed) and subsequentlyto outcomes for children and families (based on employee retentionand the provision of quality services). While these outcomes werenot measured in the current study, in the interaction between agencyadministrators and researchers, this assumed relationship was impor-tant to organizational motivation to participate in the study and con-sider strategies in response to ndings. The development and testingof organizational interventions to address organizational contributorsto staff turnover in child welfare has been described by Collins-Camargo, Sullivan, Washeck, Adams, and Sundet (2009) as an effec-tive approach to organizational change.</p><p>The purpose of this study was to examine the linkages betweenorganizational constructs and intent to remain employed, with partic-ular attention to the utility of survey measurement for use by childwelfare administrators as a tool to promote organizational, and ulti-mately although not measured here, outcome improvement. Speci-cally, this study tests the hypothesis that there was a statisticallysignicant positive relationship between subscales of the Survey ofOrganizational Excellence (SOE) and the Intent to Remain Employed(IRE) scale (Ellett, 2000). Secondly, it involves a case study regardingthe use of study ndings in collaboration with the public child welfareagency to implement employee retention strategies.</p><p>Findings from analysis of the data were presented to agency admin-istrative staff for use in strategic planning regarding overall organiza-tional improvement as well as organizational approaches to retentionof valuable frontline staff with emphasis on those constructs demon-strated to be signicantly related to IRE that were amenable to theagency's intervention given current contextual factors such as budget-ary realities and bureaucratic structures. In addition these purposeswhich is the focus of this manuscript, data collection was used for thepurpose of psychometric comparison of twomeasures of organizationalfactors as a part of a largermulti-state study of childwelfare supervision(Collins-Camargo, 2007). Despite the openness with which the agencyapproached the study and its ndings, missed opportunities for usingsuch organizational measurement to effect and measure true organiza-tional improvement will be discussed.</p><p>2. Methodology</p><p>2.1. Sample</p><p>This study was completed through the collaborative efforts of thepublic child welfare agency and the university researchers. After re-ceiving approval from both the university and public agency institu-tional review boards, the agency's staff child welfare researchdirector communicated the purpose and relevance of the study to or-ganizational priorities to central ofce and regional managementstaff, in order to enlist their support in obtaining frontline staff partic-ipation. A purposive sample of all staff (N=1485) employed in thefour job classications which comprise frontline child welfareworkers was used: social service workers I and II, and social serviceclinicians I and II. The classications represent four professional ca-reer ladder positions for frontline workers, with eligibility based onyears of experience and educational background, up to but not in-cluding frontline supervisors.</p><p>2.2. Measures</p><p>Theprimarymeasure usedwas the Survey of Organizational Excellence(SOE) (Lauderdale, 2001). The SOE has demonstrated through multiplestudies to yield reliable data (Cronbach's Alpha of .85 or greater). TheSOE has been under continuous development to enhance its validity</p><p>characteristics including convergent validity studies with other</p></li><li><p>goal-oriented, and quality (Lauderdale, 1999).Constructs are measured with eighty-six items using a six-point</p><p>291C. Collins-Camargo et al. / Children and Youth Services Review 34 (2012) 289295Likert scale (Strongly Disagree = 1, Disagree = 2, Feel Neutral = 3,Agree = 4, Strongly Agree = 5, and Don't Know/Not Applicable = 0,which is not scored). Don't Know/NotApplicable responseswere not in-cluded in the analysis. It has been used over time in other states tomea-sure organizational improvement over time (Collins-Camargo et al.,2009). Examples of items in the SOE include Weproduce a high qualityof work that has a low rate of error; Wedevelop services tomatch ourcustomers' needs; Information systems are in place and accessible forme to get my job done; The work atmosphere encourages open andhonest communication; There is a basic trust among employees andsupervisors; There is a real feeling of teamwork; Weare encouragedto learn from our mistakes; The people I work with treat each otherwith respect; and, Work groups are actively involved in makingwork processes more effective. The SOE was used to collect data re-garding workplace dimensions including organizational culture in achild welfare setting.</p><p>The standardized web-based survey platform allows a limited num-ber of additional questions to be inserted to meet an organization'sneeds. The Ellett Intent to Remain Employed Scale (IRE) (...</p></li></ul>

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