If you want to reduce staff turnover, improve the quality of staff supervision

High staff turnover has been a concern in the child protection and youth justice systems for many decades. A recent US study attempted to identify the causal factors that lead to high staff turnover amongst child welfare staff in the US.

The study is of interest not so much because its findings but rather because of the excellent summary it provides on the previous research into the causes of high turnover. The summary is somewhat depressing as author reports that there  is  contradictory evidenced for all the hypothesised causes of turnover  including age, gender, hours worked, peer support, job satisfaction, length of service, expressed intention to leave and surprisingly stress and burn out

Two interesting findings from the study are that (a)staff who work longer hours are less likely to leave their job (but other studies have found the reverse finding) and (b) the importance of providing staff with adequate supervision. The latter finding may be of interest to Practitioners as this may be one  tangible way they can reduce turnover once staff have been recruited:


The report also points out that whilst effective supervision can prevent burnout, some professions, notably social work, seem better able to utilise the supervision process. This is important for Practitioners in the OoHC and youth justice areas as many staff seem resistant to the idea of supervision.





Take outs for Practitioners


The article provides Practitioners with an excellent and readable summary of causes of high turnover in the child protection space generally

Practitioners may be able to reduce turnover amongst their direct reports by improving the quality of supervision they provide to their staff



Conflict of Interest


The writer markets a program that trains team leaders and managers to deliver effective supervision to their staff


Benton, A (2016).  Understanding the diverging paths of stayers and leavers: An examination of factors predicting worker retention Children and Youth Services Review  65, 70–77

About graemembaird

I am a psychologist with a special interest in improving the outcomes of families, children and young people in the Out of Home Care and Juvenile Justice systems.
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