National Stress Awareness Day – Work Related Stress in Education

The last 12 months have been extremely difficult for educational professionals, the global pandemic contributing with a multitude of challenges. Causing uncertainty and mass disruption of the education system, educational professionals were forced to adapt quickly to new technology, work flows and restrictions.

During the last few years more than half of education professionals have considered leaving the sector due to health and wellbeing pressures.

Stress at work.

The overall wellbeing score (WEMWBS score) for education professionals in the UK remains significantly lower than the score for the general population. Even prior to the pandemic the sector reported the highest levels of stress. This comes as no surprise as the profession requires the highest levels of physical, social and emotional energy.

Percentage of staff that reported experiencing stress at work.

Senior Leaders

The three major factors that were reported to contribute to stress at work are: 

  • The volume of work – load
  • Not feeling valued in their position
  • Pupil/student behaviour 

Negative Work life balance.

Over 74% of educational professionals consider the inability to switch off and relax to be the major contributing factor to a negative work life balance. Alongside this, working longer hours increased significantly for teachers on 2020 working from home/ delivering online learning.

Working under
40 hours
41-60 hours
Working over
60 hours

Culture at work

Just under half of professionals felt that the culture at their workplace had a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Which in turn affected their ability to concentrate, manage emotions and even trouble sleeping.

Mental health struggles extend through to senior leaders too with over 41% of senior leaders believing that having time off due to mental health would negatively impact pupils/students studies. Another issue they reported was that it would negatively affect team morale.

Lack of Support

Only 41% of individuals felt that their organisations sufficiently supported staff who had mental health problems. Over half (53%) of education professionals said they do not receive sufficient guidance about their mental health and wellbeing at work – while this is down from 69% in 2019, it is still far too high.

More than half (57%) of education professionals said that they do not feel they can share mental health issues or unmanageable stress with their employer.

Feel supported
No guidance
about mental health
Unable to share
issues at work

Their main concerns are:

  • they might be perceived negatively;
  • it would be seen as a sign of weakness;
  • the stigma and shame around suffering from mental health issues.

What can we take away from this study?

Communication is Key


A major factor is communication and understanding staff needs. Creating a safe and comfortable environment for staff and senior leadership. This way staff are able express their worries and stress in the workplace. Organisations and schools may consider carrying out regular checks on all staff members within multi-academy trusts and schools.

This could be in the form of

  • Surveys and forms relating to problems encountered and how it has negatively affected staff.
  • Regular meetings to plan and discuss problems and solutions.
  • Creating a bank of helpful information and resources for staff members surrounding mental health.

Aim to boost staff morale

2 1

There are plenty of small, quick and easy perks that can serve to provide an instant lift for your staff. These can include snacks on the staffroom table, secret buddy schemes and offsite PPA. One proven way to boost team morale and staff culture is to regularly discuss weekly wins and challenges faced. Sharing weekly wins gives staff time to reflect on the positive aspects of their week and share them with the team. Whilst sharing challenges allows staff to reflect on what didn’t go too well, as well as recieve support and advice from other members of the team, focusing on how they can approach said challenges next time they are faced.

Create clear plans to implement retention and recruitment of staff.

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A plan must include meaningful action to reduce stress among school staff in order to increase retainability. It’s also extremely important to highlight that every school environment is different, with different values and culture. When recruiting new staff, it’s important to ensure that each individual aligns with your school culture and values to maximise the success and retention of staff. Honesty and reliability are just some of the core values at the heart of Unique, honesty about every aspect of school life and what’s expected of each individual is crucial to the success of each of our placements, as well as personality and culture fit.

Find the FULL study here

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