Adventures in Social Work in Business Environments


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  • Early 20’s dropped out of college to find myself Worked numerous jobs to pay rent, including waitressing, office work, even driving a coffee truck around to factories Heard many stories from employees on “coffee break”Listened to their struggles and hopes and dreamsMost were burned out with their work, including the managersHad limited expectations
  • Over the years, I learned certain truths or assumptions that laid the foundation for my work
  • Jane Addams, settlement houses, teaching immigrants how to surviveFlorence Kelley, first Chief Factory Inspector to enforce new labor laws to protect women and children, led eventually to employment laws and conditions we have today
  • - EAPs, managed behavioral healthcare, private practice, disability management, coachingPicked a case with a work environment focus, as an embedded social worker inside, yet could be an external role29 y/o, A.A. female, single, one child, urban environment, factory worker, passionate but traumatized, unsure of options Her needs; what she wanted - Environment culture, policies, limitations - what I could give – little that helpedWhat do we do when the system does not provide solutions?
  • EAPs, Organizational Development, training, conflict resolution, critical incident response, team development, facilitation, planningWorkplace conflict that literally shut down a department; university department, private, religious institution, 10 member department, disagreement in core work practices between two faculty members, based on intrinsic identity conflict (whom am I ?) and perceived attack – INTRACTABLE Interventions – individual level assessments with trauma like interventions, education, management consultation to set limits, group training intervention, conflict mediation for two individuals, organizational recommendations and resolutionWhy a social worker – first need knowledge of systems, knowledge of human behavior in groups, intervention process, values for change, rights, balance
  • Organizational Development – done in some EAPs, other consulting work, some internal in Human Resources but it is a specialty, - I was a consultant with state DHS, brought in to address several problems: Little to no existing structure, confusedchain of command, policies or proceduresHigh conflict, distrust, low morale, politicization of leadership – could not fix the latter; outside my control, mirrored problems backCreated Integrated Prevention Framework – collaborative network model – applied internally and externally Defined structure (like family rules, roles), Communication – teams across SILOes – North/South culture – created structure for personal and group empowerment; successful, but department collapsed in another
  • Often done under the name of Corporate Social Responsibility or Sustainability (emphasis on environments), but can also be part of Corporate Community Development or Corporate Foundations or GivingRapidly expanding area, no set professional field involved, social workers active and best prepared, need knowledge of systems and programs Working with a large technology manufacturer, creating a DV prevention program, for their worksites across the country. -Program purposely linked DV agencies by my design with the worksite facilities, creating relationships between shelters, DV professionals and employers Encouraged Facilities to do volunteer drives, to support shelters; One manager wanted to start her own DV shelter, did it as part of program, gaining contributions.
  • - Employer outsourced the factory, but the non-profit organization bloomed and continues as a full domestic violence service centerCONCLUSION – the work is hard, the results not a “given”; Some efforts do not take rootIn the U.S., we have a strong foundation for creating better policies and environmentsWe can share this with the world, We can also improve our environments – moving into Organizations with Well-being at their foundation and in their relationships with their partners and communities
  • Adventures in Social Work in Business Environments

    1. 1. Adventures in Social Work in Business Environments A USC SSW Faculty Webinar Dr. Beverly Younger, PhD, LCSW Clinical Associate Professor Chair, Social Work & Business in a Global Society
    2. 2. Introduction • My personal experiences as a young worker formed my understanding of work environments and needs • Created a vision for my role
    3. 3. Assumptions • People and environments are interdependent • Work environments impact personal well-being • Individuals impact work environments • People and environments are continuums, from well (positive) to unhealthy or stressed (negative) • The work process and organizations are on the same continuum • The environment, nature of work and reactions are alterable
    4. 4. Social Workers & the Workplace Social workers have always created systemic change at the intersection of employers, individuals, families and communities to promote social justice
    5. 5. SOCIAL WORK & BUSINESS IN A GLOBAL SOCIETY USC’s School of Social Work Concentration •Become an organizational practitioner utilizing skills in micro, mezzo and macro interventions •To empower and sustain employees and their families, work groups, and organizations •To promote positive well-being and equity for employees, organizations and their communities BRINGING A HUMANE APPROACH AND SOCIAL WORK VALUES INTO THE WORKPLACE
    6. 6. Micro System Social Work Social work interventions with individual clients and families Focused on individual or family problems in the context of the environment
    7. 7. Mezzo System Social Work Social work interventions with groups, teams or work units Focused on internal group problems or problems between groups in the context of the environment
    8. 8. Macro System Social Work Empowering and changing the organization as a whole Altering the organizational environment to create positive micro and mezzo realities
    9. 9. Macro System Social Work and Communities Empowering and changing the organization and its relationship with its community or environment Creating relationships through integrated programs that emphasize social responsibility
    10. 10. The Desert Rose Foundation Lives On!