Positive Education aims to promote flourishing schools, and staff play a vital role in contributing to the wellbeing of school communities. All staff, both teaching and non-teaching, act as role models for students, and contribute to the school’s culture of wellbeing. Hayley Lawrence from Radiant Being co-creates positive organisational change whereby all members of the school community are coached to Learn it, Live it, Teach it and Embed it. 

Fostering staff engagement and wellbeing is undoubtedly a good thing in its own right, but research also suggests that staff are more effective when they are mentally well.  

In fact, research suggests that staff with higher wellbeing are:

  • More productive / higher performance in their job
  • Have fewer sick days, and are
  • Likely to stay with the organisation for longer.

So what can be done to promote staff wellbeing? 

Paige Williams (University of Melbourne, Centre for Positive Psychology) has been investigating this question of how to best promote staff wellbeing as part of her PhD research involving Geelong Grammar School. She was interested in the relationships between three important factors for staff:

  • Work happiness, which is the combination of a staff member’s engagement with the work that they do; satisfaction with their specific job and their feelings of emotional commitment to the organisation as a whole.
  • Psychological capital, which is characterised by a staff member’s levels of hope, efficacy (confidence), resilience and optimism.
  • Perceptions of organisational virtuousness, which comprises a staff member’s evaluation of five specific virtues in the organisation culture: forgiveness, trust, integrity, optimism and compassion.

The results from Paige’s study suggest that both individual’s psychological capital and their perceptions of virtues in the organisation culture influence workplace happiness. This means that schools need to use multiple pathways to foster the wellbeing of their staff, by focusing both on individual development (for example, by conducting training for staff), as well as aiming to develop positive school cultures through organisationally-based initiatives such as using strengths-based review processes and positive leadership practices. 

Hayley strongly suggests 'training' as a crucial part of supporting the wellbeing of all staff, as a ‘bottom up’ approach. When new teaching and non-teaching staff are first employed by the School, they are required to participate in a three day residential course called Positive Education and Wellbeing. The course introduces the research underpinning the science of wellbeing and invites participants to experience evidence-based activities to enhance wellbeing. To support continued learning, each term we ask staff to attend Pos Ed 4U sessions, which are 1-hour “booster” workshops on key wellbeing topics.

To complement this, we also use ‘top down’ initiatives focused on promoting a positive organisational culture. For example, training in positive leadership and coaching for staff are currently underway with the expectation that they strengthen processes and practices across the school, thereby further embedding Positive Education. 

This combination of individual-focused and organisational-focused strategies is likely to be most effective in promoting staff wellbeing and thereby schools as positive institutions.

Contact us to discuss the individual needs of your school. Beginning with measurement, we will outline and begin subtle changes in flow with co-curricular demands to ensure a smooth transition to wellbeing and flourishing for all.