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Tackling work-related stress

With World Mental Health Day falling in October, we thought it was timely to look at how schools can use iAbacus® to tackle the worrying issue of work-related stress. Below are three ideas.

It won’t surprise you to hear that more than 500,000 working days were lost in secondary schools alone in 2017 due to stress, depression or anxiety impacted by work (based on a statistics from the Labour Force Survey). That’s the equivalent of 2,564 staff off work for the entire year.

All employers have a legal responsibility to protect employees from stress at work. * But just as importantly, having stressed staff in school, or off ill, affects everyone.

There are no easy answers but we do know that tackling work related stress happens at multiple levels.

1. Senior leaders developing school-wide protocols and processes to help identify and mitigate stress.

2. Middle leaders and line managers monitoring their departmental processes and spotting the signs in staff they work with on a daily basis.

3. Individuals taking responsibility for reflecting on their own health and resilience and trying to maintain a good work life balance.

iAbacus® can help with all these aspects. Schools have access to a number of iAbacus templates pre-loaded with guidance, or they can be customised to suit. They can be used for whole-school initiatives, departmental strategies and individual reflection.

The templates use the same process of self-evaluation, risk analysis, diagnostic and action planning. The only difference is the criteria and guidance.

Creating a school / departmental stress reduction strategy

One option is to have a dedicated school-wide iAbacus template with multiple areas down the left all dedicated to stress reduction. Schools can use the pre-installed HSE Management Standards ** template, or customise their own. A member of SLT can take responsibility for completing the evaluation (or risk assessment) and identifying improvement strategies.

An abacus pre-loaded with the HSE Management Standards.

Another option is for the school to add one bead to their current abacus to give focus to this area. You can even have a one bead abacus dedicated to staff well-being.

It could be that each head of department is asked to evaluate their area of responsibility and, using the collaboration feature, the results are combined onto one central abacus to reveal the whole school picture.

Personal (teacher) wellbeing strategy

Where schools have given access to iAbacus to all staff, individuals can have their own well-being abacus to monitor their stress factors.

Or they can add an extra bead on their abacus growth plan for “happiness and wellbeing” which gives them the opportunity to diagnose factors affecting them.

This is a win-win for schools. Teachers get a strategy/action plan to work on and the SLT can understand what is causing stress. It could be that there is a pattern across the school.

The full iAbacus comes preloaded with the HSE Management Standards template and a happiness and wellbeing template. Both are completely customisable.

An abacus preloaded with criteria to evaluate and improve “Happiness and Wellbeing”.

There is also a Private (Premium) iAbacus® template for resilience created by Resilience Trainer Jo Higgins-Cezza and available for a small additional fee.

For help accessing your templates or creating a bespoke iAbacus, please get in touch on 0115 929 3419 or or the live help on the website.

If you’re not yet an iAbacus subscriber, sign up today for your free 30-day trial.

* The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations of 1999 require employers to assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities, as with any other hazard. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act of 1974 requires an employer to take measures to control that risk.

** The Health and Safety Executive have published a set of six Management Standards that help simplify risk assessment for work-related stress. They help schools look at issues such dealing with unacceptable behaviour and how organisational change is managed and communicated.


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