Risk Factors

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What are the risk factors for workplace stress and that have the biggest impact on staff wellbeing?

First, it is important to acknowledge that there is a difference between pressure at work and workplace stress.

Pressure can be positive and a motivating factor, and is often essential in helping you to carry out your job, particularly when something needs to be done quickly. It can help you to work at your best, achieve your goals and perform better.

Stress occurs when this pressure becomes excessive and it is a natural reaction. It is not an illness but a state and it is when this state becomes too much or remains for too long (chronic stress) that mental and physical illness can develop. At work the major risk factors for workplace stress, according to the Health and Safety Executive (and informed by evidence) are:

  • The Demands staff face (workload, work patterns and working environment).
  • The Control staff have (how much say they have in the way they do their work).
  • The Support staff receive (the encouragement from leaders and colleagues and the resources to which they have access).
  • Staff Relationships at work (the extent to which positive working practices and behaviours are encouraged and problems dealt with).
  • Their Role (whether staff members clearly understand what is expected of them).
  • Change (how it’s managed and communicated to staff).

You are likely to experience stress when you perceive one of the above risk factors is greater than your ability to cope with it. There are many examples in schools that could cause you to feel this way; exam pressures, marking, lesson planning, extra curricula work, student behaviours, parents, too many changes, the behaviours of leaders and colleagues and of course the inspectorate!

Often it isn’t one thing but a combination of them, and the solution is to ensure staff and students get the right support and leaders create the right culture and environment where people are able to work effectively and healthily.  

Of course stress also comes from situations outside work – finances, relationships, loss, lack of sleep and exercise, to name a few, and it is also important to provide staff and students with the knowledge and skills so they are able to take responsibility for their own wellbeing.

The approach of our partner schools is to work collaboratively, supported with our expertise, and using evidence informed approaches to tackle workplace stress and improve health, wellbeing and performance in our schools. 

Long-term benefits will include:

  • A reduction in staff absence
  • Improvements in focus and productivity
  • Better management of change
  • Raised awareness of how impaired wellbeing affects performance and results
  • Improved leadership behaviours, culture and environment
  • Staff taking greater responsibility for their own wellbeing and performance
  • Better whole school results

Your starting point is to understand the current position in your school, through measuring it, and then to develop a strategy and to implement this as part of your school development plan, focusing on your most pressing needs first. We will help accelerate this process by sharing the learning from schools already taking action and providing you with the process and know-how to do this effectively and at low cost.

You will have access to a range of resources and training throughout the year to allow you to continue to improve wellbeing and performance. Training and resources will include:

  • Building your wellbeing strategy
  • Developing a wellbeing and performance culture
  • Coaching for wellbeing
  • Managing and communicating change effectively
  • Managing workload
  • Developing coping strategies
  • Building psychological safety
  • Staff responsibility, including building resilience, managing stress and mitigating risk factors

Below is the House of Organisational Wellbeing and it is important to work on the foundations first (most schools focus on the top and middle floors). You can find out more about the house here »

Working with us will enable you to put in place firm and long-standing foundations from which to grow.

If you want more information then please get in touch.



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