As a senior leader in education, your role will no doubt have its ups and downs and you want to ensure that you have a team around you who are managing their stress.
Working in education can be one of the most rewarding sectors in the world, but it is also one of the most stressful. Limited resources, long working hours and high pressure for great results can all disrupt staff wellbeing.
At present, as a result of Covid-19, stress is likely to be at a high with teams spread across work and home.
Improving mental wellbeing will have numerous positive benefits for staff, so here are some handy strategies to improve wellbeing amongst your teams, which is even more important during these uncertain times.
- Measure staff wellbeing
It’s important to find out from staff what their wellbeing concerns are – it would be very difficult to tackle the issue of staff wellbeing based on assumptions only. The best way to take this forward is to ask staff to undertake a wellbeing survey or provide a suggestion box for them to give their feedback.
Staff feedback from an anonymous survey provides real insight into their needs and concerns, which goes a long way towards informing you of any changes you need to make about wellbeing. Throughout this process make sure to keep staff in the know and let them know of any results, any changes made and the outcomes.
- Promote a positive work-life balance
Let staff know how beneficial it is to take time to do something that they enjoy away from work. Staff should be encouraged to cultivate a life outside of their role and foster a positive work-life balance
It’s important to let your staff know how beneficial it is to take time to do something that they enjoy away from work, cultivate a life outside of their role and foster a positive work-life balance.
- Encourage collaboration
There are times when working in education can seem overwhelming and staff need extra support with the sharing of resources, ideas or methods. If something is consistently working for a member of staff enable them to share it with others.
Encouraging collaboration is often helped using technology where staff can openly communicate on certain topics or encouraging group discussions.
- Offer wellbeing training
Wellbeing-focused training for staff can really help in making sure staff wellbeing is at the heart of every school. Wellbeing First, our free service available for school staff across the UK, provides a selection of free courses to help staff manage their stress levels, reduce their anxiety and discover how to foster positive mental health.
As Coronavirus necessitates school closures, education professionals are finding themselves in brand new territory, those capable of remote working are doing so, but many are still required at schools, to care for the children of workers vital to the UK.
To help as much as possible we’ve adapted our free Wellbeing First pack to help teachers and support staff to make it through this difficult period by adding a range of new online courses around the best practice for remote working and wellbeing.
- Foster open communication
Staff need to feel that they can talk about the pressures of their role and their experiences to leaders or their peers. The idea is not to encourage negativity but to help staff to talk openly without fear of judgement or scrutiny. It’s important to let staff know that asking for help is not a weakness but a strength.
You can also promote talking about wellbeing with by creating designed posters with ‘top tips for wellbeing’ or with signposts to get help if needed, such as an Employee Assistance Programme, to drive awareness and help improve wellbeing. Consider how often you talk about mental health with staff, SLT or in Governors’ meetings and ensure it is a regular feature on the agenda.
Focusing on staff wellbeing cultivates a mentally healthy school and improves staff retention; in turn, motivated staff promotes higher wellbeing and attainment in students.
For more information on the free Wellbeing First or other training courses, visit: https://educationtraining.hays.co.uk/
By Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education