5 Strategies to Improve Staff Wellbeing

One Education is proud to join schools, trusts and organisations across the country as we come together to support positive mental health for all. This Mental Health Awareness Week, we take the opportunity to reflect on the importance of staff wellbeing and explore 5 strategies to build a culture of care in the workplace.
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Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 is ‘anxiety,’ as professionals seek to raise awareness about what anxiety is, when it becomes a concern, and what we can do to help ourselves and others.

Anxiety is an emotion that everyone experiences, generally described as a feeling of worry, apprehension, or fear. These feelings are a natural response to many situations, including times of stress or potential danger. However, when anxiety becomes persistent or overwhelming, it can start to interfere with our everyday lives.

Anxiety amongst school leaders and teachers

Recently, the Department for Education (DfE) published its findings on the Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders. They found that levels of anxiety amongst teachers and leaders in English state schools are now higher than they were before the pandemic.

Notably, researchers found that high levels of anxiety were closely linked with workload and a perceived lack of manager support. Overall, 56% of teachers and leaders reported that their job was having a negative effect on their mental health. A quarter said they were considering leaving the state school sector within the next 12 months.

We know that pay has been at the forefront of recent debates, following the wave of teachers’ strikes in schools. But as the recruitment and retention crisis continues to grow, it becomes clear that the problem cannot be answered by pay alone. To retain our teachers and school staff, we need to respond to their holistic needs and build a culture of care in the workplace.

5 Strategies to Improve Staff Wellbeing

  • Give staff a voice

It is important to involve staff in dialogue and decision-making, promoting a culture of open communication, trust and transparency. This allows you to identify potential issues and take positive action before they become problems. Consulting with staff on decisions that will affect their workload and wellbeing is crucial and you can do this using your staff meetings, surveys, suggestion boxes, 1-2-1 meetings, or even ‘away days.’ It might not always be possible to find a solution that works for everybody, but it is still important to demonstrate a willingness to listen and explain the rationale behind decisions.

  • Rewards and recognition

Feeling undervalued is one of the main reasons that teachers leave their profession. Celebrating your staff members’ successes is key to boosting morale and motivation. Whether it is yoga sessions, mindfulness classes, discounted gym memberships, spa vouchers, or access to counselling services, there are many ways you can support staff by prioritising their physical and mental health. But remember, showing your appreciation doesn’t always require a grand gesture – sometimes a sincerely written ‘thank you’ email, or public recognition in an assembly, is all it takes to make a difference.

  • Work-life balance

A flexible working revolution has swept across the UK, as employees re-evaluate their priorities in pursuit of a better work-life balance. With greater control over working hours and location, staff are able to effectively manage their work alongside other commitments, such as family obligations, hobbies and health-related needs. This increases job satisfaction, productivity, and general wellbeing as a result. Whilst there may be certain barriers to flexible working in schools, it is important to consider all the options that are available, from reduced and compressed hours, staggered start and finish times to virtual staff meetings and PPA time working from home.

  • Invest in your staff

Leaders can support staff wellbeing by providing professional development opportunities to help staff grow and develop their skills. This can include training, workshops, inset days and conferences, as well as coaching and mentoring schemes. Investing in employees shows that you care about their goals and aspirations, whilst supporting them to achieve their full potential. This not only empowers the individual, but cultivates a culture of continuous learning that benefits the school as a whole.

  • Promoting self-care

A culture of care in the workplace relies on everyone taking responsibility for wellbeing, recognising how it can impact their role as well as their relationships with others. Ensure that staff have access to high-quality resources in order to manage their own mental health and signpost support to others. Interventions such as annual stress risk assessments with all staff and regular one to ones can help to identify specific triggers of stress and anxiety and ways in which employers can support individuals. It might be helpful to organise a wellbeing committee, who can develop an action plan to promote health and wellbeing across the school, continuing to monitor its impact and evaluate areas for improvement.

One Education Wellbeing

In partnership with the Manchester Stress Institute, One Education offers training to ensure every member of school staff has the opportunity to learn about wellbeing, improve their resilience, manage stress, and develop positive working relationships. This includes the incredible ‘Beat the Burnout’ coaching programme, specifically tailored to meet the needs of educational professionals. We have also released a series of staff wellbeing podcasts, covering a wide range of topics that staff can listen to at their own pace and in their own time.

With our ‘Train the Trainer’ programme, staff also have the opportunity to qualify as an accredited trainer themselves. Individuals can take part in workshops specialising in mental health, resilience, nutrition, or menopause in the workplace. This allows you to promote wellbeing and share expertise with colleagues back at school, laying the foundations for a happy and healthy workforce.

Take a look at our upcoming events and book your place:

To find out more about our Wellbeing Support Package, including in-school support and the Excellence for Wellbeing Award, please get in touch with our Wellbeing Lead, Jade Walwyn, at the following email address: jade.walwyn@oneeducation.co.uk

As proud advocates for staff wellbeing, we are passionate about building a culture of care in every school community.

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