Social support in the workplace, as well as perceived support from the organisation as a whole, appears to have a protective effect against mental health difficulties and a decline in health and wellbeing. This involves building strong relationships amongst staff but also addressing any potential conflicts as they arise.
Strong relationships can be addressed in a number of ways from fostering the development of relationships right through to creating opportunities to maintain and strengthen them. The best way to do this is to regularly bring teams and groups of staff together to create shared experiences and common reference points and stories. (Haas and Mortensen, 2016).
Step 1: Plan in-school and out-of-school relationship-building events
In-school and out-of-school time events cater to the needs of everyone. Not all staff have the availability to attend events outside of school hours so it is suggested to create the opportunity for staff to connect inside of core business hours, where possible.
Ways to do this include:
- Find ways to schedule shared experiences inside work hours. This could include planning a team/relationship-building activity during a team or staff meeting. It is important to invest in staff wellbeing as much as it is to focus on curriculum support.
- Schedule regular out-of-school activities. This may include dinners, group sporting events, interesting new hobbies, or exploring the interests expressed by staff (e.g. Tony loves going to the driving range weekly, so let’s explore this).
Step 2: Check-in often
It is vital to check-in regularly with your coworkers, address grievances, and find ways to offer and receive feedback. Regular meetings require time and effort, but personal check-ins are very useful and can help develop positive relationships with other staff. Teachers can regularly check in with leaders and support staff to keep communication channels open. School wellbeing is a combined effort and fostering these opportunities is vital.
Step 3: Offer perspective
Some staff require support to have a true awareness of others and develop their emotional intelligence. This is not something to get frustrated with, rather a skill to be developed and nurtured. This is where we can role model what it means to show empathy and understanding and offer perspective about an apposing point of view to staff who are feeling frustrated.
Step 4: Manage conflicts as they arise
It is important for leaders and staff to respond to conflict as soon as it arises. Encourage employees to communicate openly with each other, particularly to resolve conflict as necessary. This may require some coaching/training on negotiating solutions or conflict resolution. Consider Restorative Questioning, see more resources here or engage with local training organisations.
Step 5: Plan your next steps
Are you keen to continue the momentum and support your school and staff towards improved workplace culture?
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