British workers across all sectors regard social care as the most fulfilling profession to work in - and social workers themselves agree - according to a survey carried out by specialist recruiter Randstad Care.

Almost a quarter (23%) of those polled for the 2014 Randstad Fulfilment@Work Report considered health and social care to be the most fulfilling profession, nearly double that of the next most popular choice (arts, entertainment, and publishing with 12%). 

When it came to asking just social workers what they regarded as the most fulfilled sector, they opted for their own profession. In fact, an even greater percentage nominated the industry (29%) and edged out fashion, retail and wholesale (25%).

What do you think is the most fulfilling sector to work in?

  • Health and Care (including: Doctors, Nurses and Social Workers): [a] 23%, [b] 29%
  • Arts, Entertainment and Publishing: [a] 12%, [b] 7%
  • Education: [a] 11%, [b] 1%
  • Public Sector – other (excluding: Health, Care, and Education): [a] 10%, [b] 11%
  • Professional services (Accountancy, Law etc.): [a] 7%, [b] 7%
  • Engineering and Manufacturing: [a] 6%, [b] 3%
  • Telecoms, Media, and Technology: [a] 5%, [b] 2%
  • Hospitality, Leisure and Hotels: [a] 5%, [b] 1%
  • Financial Services, Banking, Investment + Fund Management (excluding accountancy): [a] 4%, [b] 4%
  • Support Services and Administration: [a] 4%, [b] 7%
  • Fashion, Retail and Wholesale: [a] 4%, [b] 25%
  • Construction, Building and Property: [a] 3%, [b] 0%
  • Transport: [a] 2%, [b] 0%
  • Utilities, Water, Mining, Oil and Gas: [a] 2%, [b] 0%
  • Food and FMCG: [a] 2%, [b] 4%
  • Tobacco: [a] 0%, [b] 0%

[a] General population, [b] Social care employees

Victoria Short, MD of Randstad Care, said: “A number of different factors can inform how motivated and happy people feel in their jobs, but knowing you are making a real difference to the quality of peoples’ lives is a major influence.

"Many individuals embarking on a career in social care cite the fulfilling nature of the work as a reason for pursuing such a role. So perhaps you could argue the result is no surprise. However, it’s also a hugely challenging and pressurised role and, certainly for the general public, much of their understanding of the role is often informed by what can go wrong.

"Given this backdrop, I think it’s a huge positive that social work is being recognised by those outside the industry as a rewarding career. Hopefully, this will help to encourage more people to enter social work.”

The relative importance of recognition

The survey also asked workers what would make them feel more fulfilled at work and encourage them to stay longer in a particular role. Issues such as job security, pay and the variety of the role all played a part but social workers stood out from the pack when it came to how importantly they regard recognition of their contribution by their management. 

Whereas professionals in sectors such as finance (44%) and education (31%) are relatively keen to have their efforts acknowledged, just 13% of those working in social care regarded greater recognition as an important factor.

Would greater recognition of your contribution make you feel more fulfilled at work?

  • Finance: 44%
  • Education: 31%
  • Allied health professionals: 30%
  • Tech & IT: 25%
  • Property: 22%
  • Engineering: 18%
  • Construction: 17%
  • Social care: 13%
  • Legal: 10%
  • Doctors and nurses: 9%

Victoria Short added: “Scoring recognition as a less important factor than the majority of their peers in other sectors would seem to suggest that, for social care workers, they value the feedback they get from the individuals they look after more highly than the appreciation of their bosses.

"With doctors and nurses also scoring similarly in this category, it would appear that health and social care professionals are self-starters who are far less reliant on praise than those elsewhere.

"The fact that social care workers regard themselves as working in the most fulfilling sector despite this need for acknowledgement hints at the strength of character required to have a successful career in this field. The work itself is rewarding and that helps motivate and inspire individuals as much as anything else.”