SPS: How to Retain Millennials in the Social Work Profession

School Social Work

woman highlighting work

When compared with their Gen X parents and older siblings, millennials (born 1981-1996) are known to have a greater sense of self, to be more self-centered, but also to be more team-oriented, says an article by Kashera Guy Robinson, DSW, LCSW, and Uraina L. Scott, DSW, LCSW, committee members of the School Social Work Specialty Practice Section.

Millennials are looking for better, more open communication between employees and managers, a respectful work environment, and a good support and feedback system for guidance from management, the authors say in the Section Connection newsletter article “Millennials Are Leaving the Social Work Profession: What Can We Do to Retain Them?”

Millennials don’t see their occupations as a major part of their identity in the same way generations before them did, and they embrace a “work to live” philosophy. Work to them is what they do to earn an income, and many will commit only if it fits within their overall life plans, the authors explain. For many millennial graduates, the reality of a first job experience often does not match personal expectations, leading to higher levels of early career attrition, the authors say.

Some of the younger school social workers were leaving the profession after working only a few years, the article says, unlike the veteran members of the department who, in most instances, worked for the school district for several decades.

“In fact, we had four 20- and 30-somethings resign at the end of one school year,” the authors say. “This was unprecedented!”

cover of winter 2024 issue

Social Work Advocates Flipbook

NASW members, sign in to read the Winter 2024 Issue as a flipbook