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Health & Welling at Work Needed Now More than Ever
It seems that now more than ever, teachers and education staff need support from the government, industry leaders and governors. According to the Education Support Partnership helpline and charity, there has been a “sharp rise in teachers calling the helpline” with a reported “35% increase in calls from teachers and 24% of head teachers and deputy heads over the past 12 months.”
Major news outlets are consistently running pieces about the need for more support for our teachers. “Teachers are at breaking point” urges The Guardian in a recent report, “it's time to push wellbeing up the agenda” in a climate where over 30% of teachers feel stressed because of work most, if not all of the time and a staggering 53% had considered leaving the sector within the past two years because of health pressures.
“Speak to teachers,” says Simon Lee, Chief Executive of CSSC Sports & Leisure, “and you’ll likely find that achieving a better work-life balance is the biggest challenge. We at CSSC can certainly help to implement change that will improve the wellbeing and health of staff. The growing number of teachers joining CSSC is testament to that.”
With head teachers and decision-makers focussed on fallout from staffing changes or pressure to deliver results, staff wellbeing may not be front of mind. However Daniella Lang of Brimsdown Primary school, feels that the benefits of having a health and wellbeing policy are invaluable. Lang told The Guardian how “prioritising staff happiness at work has led to a marked improvement in our school’s Ofsted grade and a new harmony in the staffroom.”
She shared tips on how leaders can create plans and policy to help staff to make the most of their time so that their physical and emotional welfare is optimised. Lang mentioned that an open and honest discussion perhaps by implementing a wellbeing team is a good start. From there, leaders can begin by making small, manageable changes to acknowledge hard work and provide support for those suffering high stress or emotional issues and improve workload by having good, working equipment and plenty of opportunities for training.
“We also get suggestions from staff of initiatives they would like to see” says Lang, “a weekly fitness class after school is the latest one we’re acting on” and while not all ideas were possible to achieve the board is now following up ideas of staff nights out, providing information about coping with stress and paying a housekeeper to tidy after lunch so it can be a haven for staff.
Implementing a health and wellbeing plan can help to reduce sick days, improve productivity and staff happiness which will then flow on to the students, creating a healthier work environment for everyone. Recent studies by The Work Foundation show that 15 million days off were attributed to stress, depression and anxiety – and increase of 24% since 2009, at an estimated cost of £70billion each year. Alongside mental health, musculoskeletal health is one of the major conditions affecting British workers with 23% of all lost days due to back, neck and muscle pain.
“Creating opportunities for staff to take part in physical activity at or after work” says Simon Lee, “will improve physical and mental wellbeing and play an effective role in maintaining stronger, healthier backs and necks which was recently reported as the number one cause of lost working days.”
A well-rounded health and wellbeing policy should aim to…
- Encourage active lifestyles
- Assist employees to strike a healthy work-life balance
- Support people to achieve their personal goals
- Provide networking and teambuilding opportunities
- Improve workplace morale and performance
“Policies should be considerate of the time challenges faced by teachers and should come into play at the workplace during term time” says Simon Lee, “and offer opportunities for socialising and activity during holiday time.” Leaders can actively support staff by facilitating after-work yoga or fitness classes several times a week for example, or arrange talks by professional consultants on how to manage stress and resolve problems. Head teachers or decision makers could encourage participation in events during the holidays like parkrun or experiential challenges like Go Ape, or bread making could assist with stress relief and teambuilding.
Finding a solution that makes staff feel valued and supported, but also offers enough variety for unique personalities doesn't have to be hard or costly. CSSC Sports & Leisure has been supporting our 140,000 members from the Education sector, civil service and public sector to stay active, and lead fulfilling lifestyles since 1921.