The 6 Key Steps For Improving School Culture

Your whole-school outcomes can only be as good as your staff’s relationships and wellbeing. When your staff are burnt out trying to manage the behaviours, workload, and mounting stressors that come with teaching, they feel so overworked that they can’t even comprehend new initiatives – let alone implement them. Now more than ever requires a focus on staff wellbeing in our schools.

What if your team could work without that burden of stress? Bring fresh ideas to the classroom that improve engagement and learning? Have the energy to create and implement school-wide initiatives themselves? 

All this is possible if school leaders focus on prioritising and supporting the wellbeing of their staff. 

This article will introduce a six-phase process that organisations can undertake to improve school culture.

6 Steps for Improving School Culture

Workplace culture improves when we prioritise staff wellbeing and positive relationships. 

Staff wellbeing is achieved when they are provided with opportunities and resources to cope with stressors, improve their productivity, and contribute to the school community in a meaningful way. Using Positive Psychology and the PERMAH Model, schools can apply a 6-step framework to put their people first and finally see the changes they have been looking for in their setting.

Following these steps, your school staff can improve whole school culture one step at a time.

1. Scan your school and pinpoint the health and wellbeing needs of your staff

The first step in improving school culture involves scanning your school and assessing the existing culture and how staff are performing as a result. Before putting any new changes into action, it’s essential to consider the current needs of your school and staff.

Involving staff in this process allows leaders to obtain data and observations that may go unnoticed at an executive level. 

Do this by: 

  • Discussing overall staff wellbeing with the leadership team 
  • Collecting staff feedback about health and wellbeing 
  • Surveying staff and exploring their state of wellbeing
  • Reviewing data and drawing conclusions 
  • Planning your next steps

Download my free school scanning tool here.

2. Up-skill the leadership team

The culture and success of any organisation are heavily influenced by those in positions of leadership. Therefore, leaders should be skilled or trained in practices that help understand and support the wellbeing needs of their staff.  Emotionally intelligent leaders and those trained to manage workplace wellbeing are far more successful at creating a supportive and nurturing culture for the staff. Thus, resulting in better outcomes such as teacher retention and reduced absenteeism. 

Do this by: 

  • Having all leaders complete a self-assessment and reflection to identify areas of strength and areas for future focus.
  • Exploring and providing training and PL for leaders to develop their awareness of, knowledge, and skills to support staff wellbeing.
  • Exploring and providing training and PL for leaders to develop their awareness, knowledge, and skills in effective leadership.

Check out more quality resources to upskill you and your leadership team.

3. Create a wellbeing action plan

A Wellbeing Action Plan acts as a roadmap as you work toward developing a happier and healthier workplace.

A Wellbeing Action Plan outlines the priority areas you identified when you scanned your setting and highlights the aims and objectives linked to these priorities. The plan also outlines the actions to be implemented, the people responsible, required resources, and a review process.

Steps for creating a Wellbeing Action Plan: 

  • Assemble a wellbeing team and identify priorities for the Wellbeing Action Plan. 
  • Begin drafting your wellbeing action plan by brainstorming objectives/goals to meet the whole school’s priorities. 
  • Brainstorm actions that provide a step-by-step road map to achieving your objectives or goals, including who is responsible for each action and how this will be measured. 
  • Communicate and consult with staff 
  • Review and update your Wellbeing Action Plan based on feedback and commence working towards your objectives.

Learn more about how to create a wellbeing action plan.

4. Build and manage relationships

Social support in the workplace and perceived support from the school leadership and greater staff appear 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. 

Build the relationships within your workplace by taking these steps: 

  • Plan in-school and out-of-school relationship-building events 
  • Check-in with staff often 
  • Offer perspective 
  • Manage conflicts as they arise 
  • Track the good stuff Identify character strengths of staff 
  • Distribute the leadership.

Download my team-building ideas here.  

5. Create a stay at work plan

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 reducing risk factors for stress. This also helps build psychological safety, whereby staff can access support at work and be more likely to come to work.

Do this by:

  • Finding fun, informative and engaging ways to promote good physical health with nutrition and exercise opportunities in the workplace. 
  • Bringing awareness to mental health in the workplace and reducing the stigma 
  • Embodying wellbeing promoting strategies such as monitoring staff workload and work hours, establishing peer support, establishing job roles, etc. 
  • Where required, supporting staff who are challenged by a mental health concern or period of struggle. 
  • Contacting your employee relations team to seek advice on any other avenues you can take to support key staff members. 
  • Providing access to counselling services and/or a specialist support group

6. Foster more engagement in the workplace

When staff aren’t engaged, our attempts to introduce and embed new initiatives can be severely compromised. Increased work engagement of staff leads to optimal performance and improved outcomes for teachers, students, and the community. 

When teachers are given clear job duties, the opportunity to do meaningful work, and are empowered to utilise their strengths within the workplace, they feel motivated and engaged, improving their overall performance at work. 

Do this by: 

  • Creating clear goals and giving timely feedback and recognition of achievements 
  • Assessing, reviewing, and developing skills of staff across relevant areas
  • Ensuring clarity with job and roles 
  • Creating a mentoring, coaching, and peer feedback model.

Conclusion

By prioritising staff wellbeing and following this six-step process you’ll be well on your way toward transforming the culture at your school so you can achieve the success and outcomes you know your school is capable of.

You can learn more about the 6-step process for improving school culture and staff wellbeing by downloading this FREE comprehensive guide which will give you all the tools, templates, and resources you need to get started with the process or check out the Well-Led schools episode linked below “The 6 Steps You Need to Take to Improve Staff Wellbeing at Your School”

I also offer a range of tailored school wellbeing consulting services to suit the needs, budget, and nuances of your specific school including:

If you’d like to learn more about how my consulting services can help improve the culture and boost staff engagement and wellbeing at your school, be sure to book a discovery call here

Episode 1: Well-Led Schools – The 6 Steps You Need to Take to Improve Staff Wellbeing at Your School

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