BACKGROUND: This study aimed to explore the experiences and needs of (ex-)welfare benefit recipients from a large urban municipality in the Netherlands regarding their welfare-to-work services and their case workers.
METHODS: Quantitative data from a client satisfaction survey that was filled out by 213 people (response rate 11%) who received welfare-to-work services was combined with results from four group interviews with a total of 15 people receiving welfare-to-work services. Verbatim transcripts from the interviews were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.
RESULTS: The survey results showed that most clients were reasonably satisfied with the welfare-to-work services they received. Four main themes emerged from the interviews: (1) experiences and needs related to the interactions between case workers and benefit recipients; (2) the need for tailored services; (3) the complicating role of the system the case workers operate within; and (4) the existence of differences between case workers regarding how strict they followed the rules and to what extent they connected with their clients on a personal level.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that clients were reasonably satisfied with the welfare-to-work services provided by their municipality but that there is still room for improvement. Case workers should have good social skills to build a trusting relationship with the client, welfare-to-work services should be tailored to the individual, and clear concise information should be given to welfare benefit recipients, especially with regard to what benefit recipients can expect of the municipality and the case workers, given their dual role in supporting (re-)integration to work and monitoring benefit eligibility.
- Qualitative research
- Social welfare
- Vocational guidance