5 Signs Staff Morale is An Issue At Your School (and what to do about it!)
1 There is no one in the staffroom at lunch time
The staffroom used to be the place where staff congregate to catch up and support each other. In some schools, new staff are advised to avoid the staffroom because that is where misery congregates and staff share ‘war stories’ outdoing each other in a competition to see who is having the toughest day.
2 Staff are withdrawing discretionary effort
Schools rely on the discretionary effort of engaged staff to offer a great array of extra-curricular opportunities and experiences for the students. When morale is low, staff withdraw and retreat to survival mode, only doing what they HAVE to do. A very limited number of staff continue to offer additional programs.
3 Teachers arrive at the latest time possible and leave as early as possible
Attitudes are contagious. When morale is low, school is not a fun place to be. There is a lack of energy and enthusiasm and nobody wants to be there.
4 Less than 50% of staff attend staff social events
Social connection is important for our well-being and to provide support when faced with challenges. Whilst some staff like to keep their private life, private, if nobody attends a once a term social gathering of staff, it’s probably an indicator that staff are feeling under the pump and not feeling supported.
5 You are dreading going to school (and you are the boss!)
If even the boss doesn’t want to be there most days, then the situation is serious. Everyone catches the boss’s attitude!
So what can you do about it?
- Form a working party of interested staff to be led by the member of the leadership team responsible for staff well-being.
- Meet twice per term to unpack the School Culture and recommend improvements that are going to make the school a better place to work.
- Encourage, inform and support staff to take responsibility for their own well-being and the choices they make.
- Find out what annoys staff, fix whatever you can and acknowledge that you have heard the rest.
- Increase the visibility and engagement of leaders at crucial times
- Identify and eliminate bureaucratic time wasting and streamline systems
- Ensure meetings are a good use of people’s time
- Review communication channels including email
Just like renovating your house, there are three formats that this process can take. You could Do It Yourself (D.I.Y. without plans), get an expert to provide the plan and then follow the step-by-step instructions or call in a builder. The cost involved, the time commitment required and the outcome achieved will depend on which option you choose.
D.I.Y. – follow the above instructions and pick your own adventure
Cheapest option but will take the greatest commitment of time from staff and may miss the mark
P.W.B. – Project: Well-being – a step-by-step guide, through a clear process, to build a positive school culture (including a staff PD session each term)
Small cost ($1190 + gst) but well-structured process is provided, time is used well and the outcomes are owned by staff
External Facilitator – Leads and facilitates the complete process from beginning to end including staff PD and working party meetings
Most expensive option (approx. $20K) and requires least time commitment from internal leaders but outcome depends on the quality of the facilitator