Amazing work! You have been working hard to implement many of the required steps to improve staff wellbeing and school culture. You have already begun the journey of improving wellbeing at your school by reviewing multiple sources of data and formulating a Wellbeing Action Plan in your school setting. You have practices in place to build, strengthen and manage the relationships between staff at your school which is breeding a positive school culture already. Read on to learn how to develop systems and supports to reduce staff absenteeism and create an even better environment, where staff are further motivated to come to work.

Staff absenteeism and workplace engagement is a growing problem for many schools.

To reduce the incidence of staff calling in sick due to stress or impacted mental health, your school may benefit from putting a few key measures in place to ensure work is a safe place to come to when staff feel overwhelmed and burnt out.

Creating a healthy and happy workplace is about building on the positive aspects of a working environment and taking steps to reduce any risk factors for stress. This also helps build psychological safety, whereby staff can access support at work and will be more likely to come to work.

Taking steps to encourage everyone to speak openly about their health and wellbeing serves as a support for those staff who require it and a preventative measure for those who may struggle later on. Consider workplace health promotion strategies that include nutrition information, physical activity incentives, and mental health awareness and education as ways to bond staff to their workplace.

When leaders and school staff promote a safe and respectful workplace culture, their teams are more stress-resilient and better equipped to actively support themselves and each other. By creating an environment that promotes wellbeing, employees feel supported and valued.

Step 1: Find fun, informative and engaging ways to promote good physical health

Support your staff with their nutrition and health and explore exercise opportunities during work hours.

Ways to do this include:

  • Good nutrition supports good mental health. Reduce the availability of unhealthy foods in staff rooms and provide healthy alternatives
  • Encourage walking meetings or walking groups at break times
  • Organise boot camps or yoga sessions for teachers before or after school
  • Create after work sporting teams and invite staff to join
  • Create exercise challenges like a ‘Step Challenge’ and encourage staff to get out and move
  • Encourage staff to take time in their day to be outside: during breaks or with their class
silver linings

Step 2: Bring awareness to mental health in the workplace and reduce the stigma

Ways to do this include:

  • Talk openly about mental health and make information available via noticeboards, email, or intranet.
  • Participate in health-related events like R U OK? Day, Go Home on Time Day, and World Mental Health Day
  • Encourage staff sign up to Mental Health First Aid courses online
  • Promote support services such as EAPs, external helplines, and referral services
  • Provide professional learning and training around mental health and wellbeing
  • Arrange for someone to share their personal experience of a mental health condition and their recovery. This could be a Beyond Blue ambassador, or you may have an employee or manager willing to speak openly and share their story.
Adrienne standing in kitchen with vegetables

Step 3: Embody wellbeing promotion strategies

Ways to do this include:

  • Monitor staff workload and work hours. If staff are regularly working long hours, taking work home, or working through breaks, address the issue directly and find ways to support them
  • Establish peer support, mentoring, and peer coaching programs and models for staff
  • Ensure staff feel confident in their role. If this is not the case, support the employee in developing their skills with professional learning and peer support
  • Provide additional assistance when team members are undertaking challenging tasks, such as new duties or roles
  • Ensure employees have an up-to-date job description that includes role purpose and key duties expected of them. Have a clear process and time frame to resolve any uncertainty
  • Encourage autonomy/self-direction in roles where appropriate. This could include supporting staff to determine their specialties, leadership opportunities, how their work is organised or how problems are tackled
  • Offer opportunities for employees to provide feedback regarding their role, such as performance reviews, team meetings, or supervision sessions

Step 4: Where required, support staff who are challenged by a mental health concern or period of struggle

Ways to do this include:

  • Pay attention to employees who are behaving or talking in ways that are unusual for them. Approach them with sensitivity and respect to enquire about what is happening
  • Facilitate open communication when problems arise
  • Offer flexible working arrangements
  • Contact your employee relations team to seek advice on any other avenues you can take to support key staff members
  • Provide access to counselling services and/or a specialist support group
  • Suggest staff complete their own ‘Personalised Wellbeing Action Plans’


Would you like more information on how to create a personalised stay-at-work plan for your school?

Book in a FREE school culture assessment consultation and identify and plan your next steps to improved staff health and wellbeing in your school.

In this appointment, you will have the opportunity to discuss your school's concerns, goals and your next strategic steps towards a more positive school culture.

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