The Wellbeing Action Plan: An Essential Tool for Ensuring Staff Wellbeing in The Workplace
With jobs demanding more and more of us, many are struggling with high levels of stress and deteriorating mental and physical health. Now more than ever before, there is a growing demand for innovative and proactive approaches for managing the health and wellbeing of staff in the workplace.
School employees and teaching staff are among some of the most stressed groups of any profession; the goalposts are forever moving – from managing student behaviour, parent demands, an ever-growing, unrealistic curriculum, and departmental directives. This pressure is not only reserved for teaching; many employees across a range of industries struggle with physical, mental, and emotional health, with little respite on the horizon with current Covid restrictions.
Staff retention and effectiveness largely depend on the leadership team’s or employer’s ability to manage staff wellbeing in the workplace.
Why Your Workplace Needs a Wellbeing Action Plan
Focusing on people first makes us more likely to see progress and change or new initiatives successfully introduced. Unhappy, unhealthy, and unbalanced staff will have a hard time keeping their heads above water, let alone delivering the results to go in an annual report.
Plan the right initiatives. Too often, managers and leaders are quick to plan the outcomes they desire for their setting yet fail to consider how their people will have the capacity to get them there. Objective plans are all well and good in theory, but too often, they fall short.
When I review school annual action plans, I rarely see any mention made of staff-wellbeing. What an oversight! Without a high-functioning staff, the jobs rarely get done, and they certainly aren’t consolidated over time. This is why I urge schools and organisations to design a staff wellbeing action plan.
A wellbeing action plan provides a strategy for a school or organisation to develop a healthy and happy workplace capable of ongoing growth and achieved outcomes.
This article will cover:
- What a staff wellbeing action plan is
- How to create a staff wellbeing action plan
- Step by step guide for implementing a wellbeing action plan that makes a difference to your workplace culture
What Is a Staff Wellbeing Action Plan?
Wellbeing Action Plans are an evidence-based system used worldwide to manage staff health and wellbeing. They help identify priority areas and the actions needed to work towards school or organisational improvement. Wellbeing Action Plans are a collaborative document created in conjunction with the staff that helps identify the culture building, prevention, and intervention strategies and practices needed to ensure staff feel safe and content coming to work, even when times are tough.
The Wellbeing Action Plan document provides scope for implementing a range of ways to promote a healthy lifestyle, access support, build relationships, build morale, and strategies for ongoing culture building.
Wellbeing Action Plans allow you to set achievable goals, objectives, and strategies for your workplace health and wellbeing program.
Well-thought-out action plans identify school or organisational priorities based on a review of staff voice and multiple data sources, also known as a school scan.
The most successful plans are built around aims and objectives focused on the PERMAH model’s six areas of workplace wellbeing – positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment, and health. The plan also outlines the actions to be implemented and the people responsible, required resources, and a review process.
The concept of workplace wellbeing action plans isn’t new. Leading Australian organisations like Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute, and Heads Up all recommend workplaces make these crucial considerations to preserve the health and wellbeing of all staff.
The Most Effective Wellbeing Action Plans
A Wellbeing Action Plan must be developed following a clear and systemised approach and NOT behind the closed doors of a leadership team meeting or as a tick and flick wellbeing initiative.
In order for plans to be effective at creating needle-moving change, they have to be supported by a few key considerations:
Good wellbeing plans:
- Are developed to support the areas of need in your school: Before ever creating an action plan, we have to get to the source of the problem so it can be appropriately addressed.
- Are complemented by your whole school vision for a positive culture and improved staff wellbeing: Co-creating a vision with your staff helps them to see why the actions are what they are and understand the direction of the school.
- Include actions, roles and responsibilities for leaders, teachers and staff: Recognising that it’s a joint responsibility of all school staff is an important aspect of carrying out your plan successfully. When everyone’s roles and responsibilities are clear, there’s more accountability and results.
- Consider the culture building, prevention and intervention strategies required to address the priority areas: This means your actions aren’t all “preventative” in nature and actually address any staff at crisis. Culture building requires strong and united leadership approaches that are received by staff.
- Outline the things you can do, skills you can master and things you can learn to influence change in your school culture and staff wellbeing
- Are structured using the 6 areas of the PERMA(H) Model: A plan that considers actions across each of the areas that contribute to wellbeing ensures you’re taking a holistic approach versus a more narrow one which may not properly address all the contributing factors of our staff’s wellbeing and support staff psychological safety.
5 Steps for Building a Staff Wellbeing Action Plan
A solid Wellbeing Action Plan takes into consideration the unique needs of the workplace and employees. Mapping out this plan begins with a considered scanning process, where the management and staff review the needs for their setting. This scanning phase is vital for ensuring a successful health and wellbeing program. There is little point in creating a generic action plan that does not tend to your entire staffing body’s needs, voices, and contributions.
Step 1: Assemble A Wellbeing Team And Identify Priorities For The Wellbeing Action Plan
A well-formed team includes staff from across the school or organisation. A mix of leadership, teachers/employees, administration, and support staff.
This team will:
- Set a regular meeting time.
- Begin identifying priorities by reviewing your collected data and observations from multiple data sets and identify any clear themes. You can use the scanning tool to capture your data discussion.
- Review the overall themes and decide on three overarching organisation priorities to focus on over the next 12 months. E.g., Build relationships, reduce absenteeism, support staff with mental health concerns, develop the leadership team capacity, etc.
Step 2: Begin Drafting Your Wellbeing Action Plan By Brainstorming Objectives/Goals To Meet The Whole School’s Priorities.
Begin mapping out 12 monthly objectives and goals that link to your school or organisational priorities. For example, some of the objectives may relate to:
- Strategies to decrease the impact of workplace risk factors (such as student behaviour, occupational violence, parent challenges).
- Ways to build strong relationships between staff.
- Systems to identify and support staff who are not coping with the demands of teaching or finding ways to support those with mental health or physical health conditions to stay at or return to work.
Ways to do this include:
- Consider some actionable objectives that will help move you closer to performing better across your priority areas. E.g. plan in-school team building events, provide staff with professional learning on wellbeing, provide time to complete online mental health training.
- Prioritise objectives and remove any that don’t align with school/organisational priorities.
Step 3: 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.
Ways to do this include:
- List the possible actions required to meet the desired objective, e.g., plan a team-building event once a term, book a wellbeing presentation in week 5 of each term, or block out week 8 staff meetings for mental health training.
- Ask staff/team members to nominate or delegate areas they will be responsible for working towards.
- Assign suggested ways to measure the efficacy and success of implementing these actions.
Step 4: Communicate And Consult With Staff
Now that you have drafted your Wellbeing Action Plan, it is time to ask for feedback from all staff at your school or organisation.
Ways to do this include:
- Engage the staff in your school – let them know what you’re doing, share your action plan, and seek their input.
- Promote your progress, both internally and externally, using email newsletters and staff meetings to share your hard work.
- Focus on the specific benefits for your staff, school, and the community in your communication.
Step 5: Review and Update Your Wellbeing Action Plan Based On Feedback And Commence Working Towards Your Objectives
Ways to do this include:
- Regularly meet with the wellbeing team.
- Review objectives and actions and update each other on progress, challenges and seek support.
- Consider ways to seek external support via the department, governing bodies, other schools and principals, and networking opportunities.
Prioritising wellbeing in the workplace is vital for ensuring your staff is motivated and energised to take on the day-to-day work and implement the changes required to achieve the vision leaders have for their organisations.
A sound Wellbeing Action Plan will help your school or organisation focus more closely on improving and maintaining staff wellbeing in order to achieve desired outcomes and goals.
Therefore, when ideating a wellbeing action plan, particular focus should be placed on the six elements of the PERMAH model for workplace wellbeing to ensure a well-rounded approach.
I’ve created a 6-step approach that helps leaders identify and target the priority areas of need to promote staff wellbeing within their schools. Through this approach you can build a school culture that proactive, not reactive to staff wellbeing. Creating a Wellbeing Action Plan for your school is the third step in my approach.
If you’re interested in conducting a school scan of wellbeing, and creating a targeted Wellbeing Action Plan to better support staff wellbeing and improve school culture, I’d love to chat. View all my School Wellbeing Consulting services and book a call here.
Resources you may like to explore
- My list of workplace wellbeing resources
- Healthy Workplaces SA Templates
- PDF: Heads Up – Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace – A guide for Managers
- PDF: Beyond Blue – Encouraging Leaders to Take Action in the Workplace
- PDF: BeYou – Planning for Wellbeing: mine, yours, ours
- PDF: Black Dog Institute – Ten Things You Can do to Make Your Workplace Mentally Healthy
- PDF: Black Dog Institute: Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces – A review of the research
- PDF: SA Government – A workplace health and wellbeing toolkit
From the blog
If student academic success and school-wide performance are on a school leader’s agenda, then prioritising staff wellbeing should be a forethought, not an afterthought. There…
Defining and measuring staff wellbeing is a complex task for schools. Our personal interpretation of wellbeing hinges on our unique perspectives, what we value most,…
In order to be effective in the current climate, school leaders must embody a mix of cognitive, psychological, and social skills. Personal attributes such as…
On the back of the past few years impacted by the pandemic, interruptions to student learning, a national shortage of teachers and unmanageable workloads, staff…