JOURNAL ARTICLE

Factors influencing motivation and job satisfaction among supervisors of community health workers in marginalized communities in South Africa

Olagoke Akintola, Gamuchirai Chikoko
Human Resources for Health 2016 September 6, 14 (1): 54
27601052

BACKGROUND: Management and supervision of community health workers are factors that are critical to the success of community health worker programmes. Yet few studies have explored the perspectives of supervisors in these programmes. This study explored factors influencing motivations of supervisors in community health worker programmes.

METHODS: We conducted qualitative interviews with 26 programme staff providing supervision to community health workers in eight community-based organizations in marginalized communities in the greater Durban area of South Africa from July 2010 to September 2011.

RESULTS: Findings show that all the supervisors had previous experience working in the health or social services sectors and most started out as unpaid community health workers. Most of the participants were poor women from marginalized communities. Supervisors' activities include the management and supply of material resources, mentoring and training of community health workers, record keeping and report writing. Supervisors were motivated by intrinsic factors like making a difference and community appreciation and non-monetary incentives such as promotion to supervisory positions; acquisition of management skills; participation in capacity building and the development of programmes; and support for educational advancement like salary, bonuses and medical benefits. Hygiene factors that serve to prevent dissatisfaction are salaries and financial, medical and educational benefits attached to the supervisory position. Demotivating factors identified are patients' non-adherence to health advice and alienation from decision-making. Dissatisfiers include working in crime-prevalent communities, remuneration for community health workers (CHWs), problems with material and logistical resources, job insecurity, work-related stressors and navigating the interface between CHWs and management. While participants were dissatisfied with their low remuneration, they were not demotivated but continued to be motivated by intrinsic factors. Our findings suggest that CHWs' quest for remuneration and a career path continues even after they assume supervisory positions. Supervisors continue to be motivated to work in mid-level positions within the health and social services sectors.

CONCLUSIONS: Global efforts to develop and increase the sustainability of CHW programmes will benefit immensely from insights gained from an exploration of supervisors' perspectives. Further, national CHW programmes should be conceptualized with the dual purpose of building the capacity of CHWs to strengthen health systems and reducing unemployment especially in marginalized communities with high unemployment and low-skilled labour force.

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