How Can We Tackle Work Stress at an Organisational Level?
The latest findings from a survey of teachers has painted a dramatic picture of teacher corporate wellness; 76% of teachers believe that workplace stress is making them ill, while 56% believe this stress is making them worse at their jobs. The survey also showed that 83% of teachers feel constantly exhausted because of work, and the pressures are taking their toll on relationship wellness outside of work for 40% of teachers. However, while these results should spark concern for teachers’ wellbeing, it’s hard to feel sympathetic for people who get to play all day and go home at 3pm, right?
Every teacher has, at some point or another, heard such gems as “But what about all those school holidays?”, or “I wouldn’t mind finishing at 3pm for the day”. You might also like to dish out a comment like “we’re all stressed” when seeing a report that suggests any group of workers has it harder than another. True, it’s not a competition, and while teachers do face a myriad of daily stressors, this is not to say it’s not a difficult time for everybody. So instead of telling teachers to build a bridge and get over it, how can we come together to fix the problem for everyone? How can we tackle stress at an organisational level rather than treating it, as is so often the case in education, as an individual failing?
1. Employers need to remember that it’s their legal duty to protect their workers’ health as well as their safety. According to the ATL, injury prevention should not be the be-all and end-all of corporate wellness policies; there also needs to be policies in place to protect employee health against workplace stressors.
2. There also needs to be a culture of wellness, rather than just policies and procedures that look good on paper, but don’t amount to much in a worker’s daily lift. The TUC’s recently published manifesto Time for Change: A Trade Union Manifesto calls for the reclaiming of health and safety at work, with particular regard to all workplaces being inspected regularly to ensure employer compliance with health and safety law.