Improving mental health within individuals in the workplace has been a growing conversation over recent years and it is important that academic institutions are addressing and challenging issues that surround this, too.
Contributor Jane Gibson, Education Industry Expert – The Access Group
Symptoms of stress can affect both behaviour and body, often leading to poor physical health. It goes without saying that a teacher with low health and wellbeing, experiencing high levels of stress or who is ill at work, will not perform to the best of their ability.
A recent study found that the main cause for stress within the teaching environment is down to unrealistic workloads being placed on school staff, which is hugely down to the current staff shortages and diminishing budgets.
To tackle this issue head on and improve employee wellbeing within schools, more educational institutions are beginning to incorporate innovative systems which will increase productivity and enhance efficiency. three key areas which can be improved by adopting a cloud-based solution software, which will reduce the workload of teachers, enhance productivity and improve overall wellness of teaching staff. Automating administrative tasks; Efficient budget planning and Successful recruitment and retention.
Automating administrative tasks
Nearly two thirds of teachers believe stress and unhappiness within work is down to workload, whilst 42 per cent highlighted the volume of administrative tasks being an issue. To have a streamlined HR and administrative system means that all aspects of your school’s day-to-day administration can be managed and updated in one place, freeing up time to deliver top class education to students as well as increased staff support. When asked which single initiative would be the most valuable to improve mental wellbeing at work, 58 per cent suggested a reduction in workload. Digital systems can streamline back office tasks by automating time-consuming admin tasks such as timesheets, manual file sharing or report writing; allowing key personnel to concentrate on more important tasks and functions due to a decreased workload.
What’s more, providing teaching staff with access to essential information they need, as well as the ability to request and amend records, is a valuable perk that makes a huge difference to productivity. Whether it’s recording absences, viewing payslips or inputting data, online systems that easily allow employees to carry out these activities are a credit to efficiency amongst the team.
These inescapable tasks are both time consuming and an inefficient use of a skilled workforce. Powerful communication and collaboration tools will increase engagement across teaching and non-teaching staff, parents, pupils and governors alike.
Case study – Efficient budget planning
SLTs have identified that dealing with conflict and budget cuts is also a driver of stress within the sector. Balancing the budget while keeping a focus on a broad, balanced curriculum is an ongoing challenge within schools and there are cloud based solutions that can support with budgeting.
Curriculum-led budget planning is the best approach for improving financial efficiency, maximising resources and delivering a broad, balanced curriculum. With budget cuts in the educational sector amounting to £5.4bn since 2015, it goes without saying that effective, long-term planning is more crucial than ever.
Staffing costs make up around 80% of an average academy’s expenditure, it’s easy to understand why curriculum-based financial planning is focused on resource. You need to make sure that your budget includes allowances for:
- Additional costs year-on-year (superannuation and NI)
- Pay awards and promotions
- Starters/leavers and change of contracts
- Overtime and training costs
- Maternity, paternity and sickness pay
Cloud-based financial software packages give school and academies the ability to calculate and analyse complex data without the need to manually input funding formulae and will promote greater efficiencies in performing key financial management activities.
Recruitment and retention
Successful recruitment and retention strategies will also take a lot of stress away from teachers. The intense workload that they have to deal with is not helped by staff shortages within the industry and many teachers are not left with a lot of planning times due to having to cover for absences. This means lesson planning is either overlooked or has to be done in teacher’s downtime, meaning a lot of unpaid overtime is being put in.
It goes without saying that staffing levels can fluctuate, and resource requirements can quickly change. Allocating time throughout the year to take stock of staffing plans can help you respond to changing circumstances quickly and effectively. This will minimise the impact on the curriculum and the budget and avoid more severe changes in a short space of time.
According to Thomas International, the average cost of recruiting a new employee is circa £30,000, so as well as focusing on finding the right employee, it is equally as important to work towards becoming an attractive employer.
Certain HR software solutions allow you to review applications, shortlist candidates, book interviews and make offers direct from your online HR system to streamline your recruitment process. Additionally they allow users to define process workflows for each vacancy, automate reference and background checks and feed candidate’s data seamlessly into his or her single central record when they start work.
Cloud-based software solutions will support staff and give them freedom to provide and deliver outstanding wellness initiatives that improve the happiness of teachers and ultimately improve the quality of education for pupils – the reason the majority enter the profession.
There are many HR software solutions on the market, so before adopting one, ensure you know how it will meet the needs of a school. Working in education, you will need access to key information such as pay scales for teachers, support staff and government funding. MATs also need accurate and up-to-date data from every academy in order to be able to report on the performance of the trust as a whole.
By using bespoke systems designed by education experts with schools, academies and trusts in mind, HR and finance teams can be sure that the solution is tailored to their needs and, most importantly, scalable.