Staff are the most important resource your school has. Related areas such as selection, retention, development and wellbeing should have the highest priority for school Heads and executive teams.
MMG has observed from recent research that schools are facing greater challenges in addressing staff wellbeing issues. Staff are experiencing increased levels of anxiety and concern about aspects of their roles, including meeting the demands placed on them. These were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the need to respond quickly to ensure continuity of teaching and learning. This required staff to learn and adapt to new and different teaching styles in delivering hybrid and home-based learning experiences for their students.
These challenges are characterised by:
- Increased parent expectations
- Greater access to staff by parents
- Increased administration tasks (for teaching staff)
- Clarity and consistency of communications
- The level of ownership and engagement from leadership teams.
Having insights regarding staff welfare, school climate and culture, leadership support, communication and staff development needs is key to developing and initiating the best intervention strategies.
The tables below show the areas that impact staff wellbeing.
Further initiatives to assist in addressing staff wellbeing include:
- Demonstrating that staff related areas are of high importance
- Providing a safe and caring environment
- Providing staff services of relevance and interest (fitness, health, social, counselling)
- Professional development to meet individual staff needs
- Acknowledgment of staff efforts
- Increased opportunities for constructive staff feedback
- Visibility of the leadership team school-wide
- Regular, timely and informed staff briefings
- School timetable reform
- Middle management leadership team charter
- Protocols for parents’ engagement with staff.
School climate and culture are vital when it comes to staff wellbeing. They are impacted by factors such as clarity of reporting responsibilities, alignment of role and work undertaken, staff involvement in the school community, staff recognition for achievements, the promotion of a positive work ethic and encouragement of staff to present ideas.
The school leadership teams play a pivotal role in staff wellbeing: being accessible to staff, encouraging staff feedback, providing clear and timely communication, consulting with staff where appropriate regarding change, assisting with goal setting and being role models.
MMG acknowledges that this will continue to be a most challenging area for school leaders; there is no easy or quick solution. It is important for staff to be confident that school leaders understand these pressures and that processes are in place to address them.
Tony Pfeiffer is the Founding Partner of MMG Education, a leader in tailored school stakeholder research and performance benchmarking. Tony served on the board of a leading independent school for over nine years and has decades of corporate experience in senior executive roles. mmgeducation.com.au