This week sees the return of ‘National Work Life Week’, running between from the 11th to 15th October, an annual campaign to encourage employers and employees to create a dialogue about well-being at work and work-life balance.
Work can provide people with purpose, a sense of identity and achievement, and allows them to make a meaningful contribution to society. This can be especially true for those who choose to work in the education sector, as they encourage and inspire generations of children allowing them to flourish. However, when individuals are unable to redress the balance between their work and their personal lives it can lead inadvertently to poor health, stress, and exhaustion diminishing the positive aspects of a vocation.
New ways of working emerged during the pandemic, as we were thrust into National Lockdown, with office-based staff suddenly no choice but to fulfil their duties at home; remotely. As concerns assuage and government guidelines soften many sectors are “hybridising” coronavirus-led changes with business as usual. A change welcomed by many an individual as they felt more able to balance the demands of the workplace and the home.
Schools did not go unscathed during lockdown closing to all but the children of keyworkers and switching from classroom-based to remote learning and lessons. Yet, the hybrid model being adopted by so many sectors is not materialising in the education sector. The return to default went unquestioned, and perhaps, rightly so in most circumstances. Most children learn best in classrooms and being in school surrounded by peers is invaluable in the development of social skills. Suggesting that schools switch entirely to remote learning would be irresponsible, but not all parts of teaching and support staff’ roles take place in the classroom. National Work Life Week should encourage schools to think creatively and draw from the experiences of the pandemic. Did Teachers complete their PPA time at home? Were staff meetings and training days held remotely? Did it work well? Is there potential to accommodate these changes in flexible working requests?
The benefits of flexible working practices are not just for the individual. Employers who are seen to promote a culture of flexibility are better able to retain experienced staff, draw from a more diverse talent pool at times of recruitment, and elicit increases in workforce productivity. So this National Work Life Week why not showcase your policies that enable staff to effectively balance their working and home lives, or highlight some examples of people working flexibly that suits both the school and the individual. Implementing flexible working may not be feasible in all circumstances (and requests should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis). National Work Life Week campaign also encourages employers to think practically about the working environment and measures that can enrich health and wellbeing at work, with the aim of reducing stress and anxiety levels. There has never been a more fitting time to consider this as expectations loom on closing the gap from lost learning, and people reconcile after the pandemic.
Should you require advice/support in relation to any of the above please contact your PACT HR Business Partner for support with help supporting your staff.
For more info on how we can support your colleagues and teams, please contact the PACT HR helpdesk on 01274 436644 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.