Project lowers absence rates among teachers

A pilot project across five schools in York has reduced absence rates among
teachers from 10.5 days to 8.9 days per employee.

Mandy Coalter, HR manager at York City Council education services, told
delegates at the CIPD’s annual conference in October that the council had set
up a project called Well, covering 200 employees.

Using stress consultants Business Health, a questionnaire based on location
and job role found staff suffered with stress and low confidence and that 10
per cent were at risk.

Personal stress profiles based on an assessment of mental and physical
health were drawn up, with those at the higher end of the stress scale
receiving extra support such as counselling. Staff had access to an onsite
health manager.

The project identified the main causes of stress and drew up of an annual
calendar of workload ‘hotspots’ so that peak times could be planned for. The
marking policy was also changed to better stagger workload, and an extra
teacher was employed.

Health managers were sent into the schools and a one-to-one mentoring and
counselling network was set up. Managers and teachers were encouraged to
delegate more and given training in how to deal with pressure.

"We adopted a holistic approach by avoiding the stigma of ‘stress’ and
recognising the close relationship between physical and mental health. If you
are stressed it will affect your health, your performance and the performance
of the team and organisation," she said.

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