Reviewed by: Sarah Cokayne, Resources Committee, 8th November 2021
Next Review: Autumn 2023
This policy is designed to assist the school to take reasonable steps to protect the wellbeing of all our staff and put in place common sense and practical preventative measures.
We aim for consistently high levels of employee engagement and a culture and environment which supports the well being of all our employees. We recognise that work can sometimes be pressurised. However, it is important to recognise the difference between manageable pressures and detrimental stress and to know that they are not the same. We recognise that a certain level of pressure is necessarily a feature of working in a school. Dealing with and solving challenges can be a rewarding and motivating part of a positive working and learning environment. However, if pressures become too much, we know it can lead to detrimental stress.
Detrimental stress may come from excessive pressures or other types of demand placed upon people by others or by themselves. For example, managers may feel they aren’t able to manage their time effectively due to competing priorities or because they are struggling with delegation. Another example may be where staff feel their workload is too much and their manager(s) are not supporting or empowering them enough.
We also recognise that people may suffer from mental health problems and we want to ensure staff at our school get the appropriate support that they may need.
- We recognise the Management Standards prescribed by the Health and Safety Executive (or “HSE”), and have taken them into account when designing this policy in order to ensure the risks associated with work-related stress are being effectively managed and controlled.
- The HSE’s Management Standards cover six key areas that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health and wellbeing, lower productivity and increased sickness absence. These are:
- demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment;
- control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work;
- support – this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues;
- relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour;
- role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles; and
- change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.
- The Management Standards represent a set of conditions that, if present, reflect a high level of health wellbeing and organisational performance. One of our objectives is to ensure that these Management Standards are effectively embedded into our school’s culture.
- In addition, we will aim to take appropriate preventative measures to avoid workplace stress where reasonably practicable by promoting staff wellbeing, including:
- providing an induction training process to all employees which aims to encourage such individuals to integrate more quickly into our school and to understand our working environment, policies and procedures;
- providing information, training and support to all managers so they can adopt and implement good management practices;
- considering reasonable flexible working arrangements in circumstances where, depending on the needs of the school and pupils, it may be possible to allow such requests in order to accommodate personal circumstances or preferences;
- operating a formal annual mid-year performance review process and encouraging regular constructive feedback meetings between staff members and their managers so that helpful and open conversations can take place;
- providing school wide staff briefings, updates and communication meetings on key material developments;
- monitoring sickness absences and early referral of employees who may benefit from the occupational health service;
- providing information to employees to increase their awareness of the causes and effects of stress and mental health issues and the support available to them;
- undertaking employee surveys, return to work interviews and exit interviews to help with feedback and continuous improvement;
- encouraging good working practices which includes being respectful of other people and their time; and
- monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of this staff wellbeing policy and other measures to reduce stress and promote good health.
All managers at our school have a specific responsibility for:
- ensuring they fully understand this policy and how it impacts them and their teams;
- management and leadership development within their own performance objectives so they can ensure their have the skills to develop their team (s) successfully;
- together with support from their manager (and the senior leadership team and/or Lewisham Human Resources department as may be appropriate), setting “SMART” objectives for people that report to them and monitoring and giving fair and constructive feedback on their progress against those objectives;
- giving appropriate encouragement, praise, constructive feedback as well as having courageous conversations addressing any concerns or areas for development and putting in place performance improvement plans as may be necessary;
- recognising the symptoms of negative stress or potential mental health issues in those they manage and seeking to prevent, mitigate and resolve the causes of any stress where relevant and appropriate with reference to this policy and other guidance from their manager, senior leadership team and Lewisham Human Resources department as appropriate; and
- dealing with all instances sensitively, confidentially and professionally.
Although the school has responsibilities as set out above, you also have a responsibility to look after your own welfare and wellbeing. You should tell your manager, or a member of the senior leadership team, or a member of the Lewisham’s Human Resources of any concerns you may have in respect of stress levels, your ability to carry out your role or any other matters that may be impacting your ability to carry your work.
In addition, you should try to take appropriate preventative measures to minimise workplace stress where reasonably practicable by promoting your wellbeing. A non-exhaustive list of examples of preventative measures that may be relevant are set out below:
- while at work you are expected to devote all your care, time and attention to your work;
- rest breaks should be taken away from work during working periods in excess of six hours. You should take advantage of natural and structured breaks (e.g. lunchtime) to take refreshments and rest etc.;
- if you are in a full time role, unless you have written consent from the school, you must not take up any other employment as this may impact your wellbeing;
- if you experience an event in your personal life that may impact your work (e.g. bereavement or separation) or believe you may be suffering form mental health issues or detrimental stress, please talk to your manager, a member of Lewisham’s Human Resources department or a member of the senior leadership team. The reason for this is to ensure that we can offer appropriate support and make any appropriate reasonable adjustments. Such issues will of course be treated in strict confidence;
- we always encourage staff to try to resolve matters informally first so if you have any concerns over your working environment you should notify your manager or a member of the senior leadership team. If the issue is not addressed to your satisfaction, then you have the option to raise the issue under the grievance procedure;
- although not mandatory, employees are encouraged to accept opportunities for counselling and occupational health support, when recommended;
Balance and support
We want all employees to enjoy a healthy balance between time spent at work (or working from home) and the rest of their time. Please be respectful of other people so, for example, unless it is an emergency, do not set deadlines at weekends or adopt methods of communication that may have a negative impact (for example late night texts). Please recognise people have different ways of working and communicating but in all cases people should be professional and maintain the high standards of the school. Please be respectful of your colleagues for example by delegating in a reasonable, thoughtful and clear way or by delivering what you say you will (or communicating effectively in advance if you aren’t able to deliver).
In order to support the school and pupils, from time to time, you may be asked to work longer hours but the normal practice is expected to be that you should be able to complete your normal duties within a reasonable working day. This should be monitored by managers and if you feel that your workload is too much you must tell your manager so they can help you to prioritise and give you appropriate support.
The school operates a flexible working policy together with policies on maternity and paternity leave, shared parental leave, adoption leave, parental leave, family emergency leave and compassionate leave. Requests for unpaid leave will be considered on a discretionary and exceptional basis.
Although we endeavour to minimise the likelihood of stress arising in the workplace, we recognise that there may be times when employees experience feelings and physical symptoms of ill-health, stress or general discontent which may be linked to their working environment or due to personal circumstances.
If you are experiencing negative stress please speak to your manager, or a member of the senior leadership team or a member of the Lewisham Human Resources department as appropriate. In addition, the school may be able to offer a referral to occupational health, and other forms of support including access to outplacement services and counselling services. These services may offer support to help deal with a range of situations, including childcare, relationships, bereavement and financial difficulties.