Scheme to relieve school stress boosts productivity

A pilot scheme to help manage stress among staff in schools has helped
improve productivity, reduce sickness absence and cut costs.

The project, conducted across five schools in York, cut absence from 10.1 to
8.3 per cent and saved the schools more than £43,000.

Mandy Coalter, former HR manager at City of York Council, told delegates
that stress was a real problem for all school staff especially teachers.
"A third of absence is anecdotally linked to stress and the most important
thing for York City Council to do was to improve the performance of

The council called in stress specialist Businesshealth to measure the levels
of stress teachers and auxiliary staff were facing.

The firm used a questionnaire based on location and job role and found that
staff had low confidence, were suffering from stress and identified 10 per cent
as high risk. The council then sent health managers into the schools and set up
a network of one-to-one mentoring and counselling support.

Managers and teachers were also taught smarter ways of working including
delegating tasks and dealing with pressure.

A second questionnaire later found that job satisfaction and confidence in
the employers had grown.

"You have to get line managers’ commitment if the scheme is to work but
what we did was innovate and it made a huge difference," said Coalter.

"Good health is a business advantage. Boards will take the business
case seriously if you link health with business."

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