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How Education Employee Health and Well-Being Impacts Recruitment and Retention

Employee health and well-being are hot topics in the HR world today, and for a good reason. There are direct connections between your organization’s success and its employees’ well-being. 

Moreover, mental health disorders and stress in the workplace have grown during the recent pandemic, along with loneliness and burnout. Employers struggle to manage these issues while also remaining profitable and effective in serving their missions. 

So, what is the solution?

You can try several leading ways to improve employee recruitment and retention. All it takes is a deeper focus on education employees’ physical and mental health and overall well-being.

Why Prioritize Employees’ Mental Health and Overall Well-Being?

Your employee’s health is not just about their physical condition. It also encompasses mental health. As employees deal with more pressure – navigating a global health crisis, finding balance between caregiving and work, and getting used to a virtual work environment – the conversation around mental health is growing.

Burnout and Mental Health Issues in Education Have Increased

The burnout rate for educators in the United States is high, with 44% of new educators leaving the field within their first five years. Non-teaching school staff working in the education sector suffer high levels of burnout as well. 

In fact, 900,000 individuals left their jobs working for the public education sector in 2021. That includes educators and non-teaching staff, adversely impacting school teachers and administrators, education board members, and even students.

The recent global health crisis furthered mental health matters. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40% of adults in the U.S. have reported experiencing mental health issues since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers Now Develop Mental Health and Well-Being Solutions

Employers are committing to giving employees the mental health resources they need. Accessing affordable healthcare is of great importance, and management should show compassion, concern, and understanding.

Along with an increased focus on mental health in the workplace, people also expect employers to prioritize the overall physical well-being of their employees as well. 

Creating a wellness program within your organization that supports employee physical health, mental wellness, and overall well-being will positively impact your staff’s engagement and job satisfaction. 

10+ Tips to Improve Employee Health and Well-Being

Employee health and well-being directly contribute to the ability of an education organization to recruit the best talent. A Virgin HealthMiles / Workforce survey found that about 87% of employees will consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer.

School officials must prioritize best practices that keep employees in the education sector from experiencing burnout and other employee health and well-being issues. Doing so can help retain the best talent while also conveying that commitment to potential job seekers in a manner that promotes recruiting. 

Here are some things you can do at your organization to help you recruit and retain the best talent:

1.  Maintain Transparency and Open Communication

Maintain transparency and clear lines of communication between employees, managers, and HR. When employees fear talking to their managers about their health and wellness or issues that might be going on at home impacting their work life, everyone suffers. 

For example, if a high school principal is dealing with a recent medical diagnosis but knows they have exhausted their paid time off (PTO), they may be reluctant to take additional time off. Likewise, they may not discuss the issue with their superintendent for fear that leadership may force them to take time off that they can’t afford to take off without pay.

Instead of discussing the problem and finding a solution, the principal needlessly suffers without the support they would have received from their supervisors and colleagues. In turn, their work (and ultimately the children they serve)  begins to suffer. 

By showing staff that you offer transparent, open lines of communication, staff won’t fear discussing their concerns or issues. Without open communication, you and your employees cannot work to resolve issues related to their health and well-being. 

2. Encourage Employees to Focus on Self-Care    

Self-care is essential for maintaining healthy relationships with yourself and the people in your life. As vital as this is for individuals, there is intrinsic value in self-care in an organization. 

When people focus on behaviors that promote health while actively managing illnesses when they occur, these behaviors often carry over into their professional life, making them more productive and happier workers. 

Set up activities, outings, and other events that encourage employees to focus on regular self-care. It may lower burnout rates as well. 

One possible tool to recommend to your employees is Headspace  – a guided meditation application that offers a special program for educators and supporting staff.  The educator account is free, you simply have to be over the age of 18 and work as a teacher or in a supporting role in education. It’s one way that you can encourage employees to take a moment out of their day to focus on caring for themselves, while also learning how to care for the needs of students and other supporting employees. 

3. Promote Work-Life Balance     

More than 66% of full-time employees in America believe strongly that they do not have an appropriate work-life balance. While school employees may struggle to keep a proper work-life balance, employers can do more to foster this.

Encourage your team to devote equal time to life outside the office to the time spent inside the office. It reduces stress, supports good health, and makes life more enjoyable. 

You can do this by offering unlimited PTO and more flexible work hours. Look at your organization’s hours and PTO policies and find a balance between working hard and overworking your workforce.

Flexible hours are also possible for school based staff and teachers where many organizations have found great success with role-sharing, part-time arrangements, and time-blocking. For more information about how to implement flexible scheduling and programs within schools see this helpful resource from TimeWise.

4. Offer Flexible Work Schedules

Flexible work schedules have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Offering remote work models is one way to improve employee satisfaction while boosting morale. It’s also a symbol of trust that your employees will appreciate.

If you don’t want your staff to work fully remotely, consider offering hybrid work schedules where employees only work in the office part-time while working remotely for the remaining hours. Flex time allows employees to choose what hours of the day they want to work during a set parameter. 

Additionally, many education organizations are permitting educators to maintain a flexible remote hybrid schedule post-pandemic to great success. This hybrid approach allows educators to work remotely part of the time while also enjoying the advantages of being present at school in person.

5. Revamp Employee Member Benefits

According to a McKinsey survey, 70% of employers state that they planned to invest in mental health resources as part of expanding the benefits offered to their employees beginning last year. 

While these employers are still seeking solutions to these issues, experts agree that revamping employee benefits – such as increased healthcare options, telemedicine, wellness, and mental health programs – improve employee health and well-being along with:

  • Recruitment
  • Retention rates
  • Productivity
  • Organizational culture
  • Employee experiences

One way to revamp employee member benefits is to consider enrolling staff into BenefitHub – a free resource that helps facilities provide additional benefits to employees. When they say the program is free, they mean it’s free for the employee member and the employer. 

6. Prioritize Mental Health Awareness and Treatment

Currently, one in five adults struggles with some form of a mental health condition. Combat this by creating a culture of check-ins where managers offer open and honest communications regarding obtaining resources to manage their condition. 

Encourage managers to demonstrate and model healthy behaviors themselves. Your organization can also provide training on mental health for managers and employees. It could also be helpful to reexamine your policies and procedures regarding time off, callouts, and paid leave.

7. Create an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Another approach to support overall employee’ wellness is to develop an employee assistance program (EAP) at your organization.

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a great way for organizations to support the overall wellbeing of their employees. An EAP provides free, confidential assessments and short-term counseling services to employees experiencing work- or personal-related issues. 

A confidential assessment is made by a counselor to help determine the type and intensity of services needed, and referrals are made to appropriate resources based on the assessment. Follow-up services also ensure that employee’s needs are addressed in a timely manner.

EAPs are designed to be voluntary, meaning that employees can choose to participate or not, without fear of any negative repercussions. Additionally, all communication between an employee and their EAP counselor is confidential, meaning that employers cannot access information regarding any assessments or counseling sessions.

Overall, an EAP is a great way to promote employee wellness in an organization. It provides employees with access to confidential assessments, referrals, and follow-up services, which can ultimately lead to better job performance and increased morale. Additionally, offering an EAP can help foster a positive workplace environment and encourage employees to seek help when needed.

Often, you can get EAPs for free as part of existing payroll provider or healthcare policies. Simply request that they activate the plan for the organization.

8. Foster an Environment for Healthy Team Relationships  

You don’t expect your employees to be best friends, but they must get along. Implement team-building exercises, informal meetings, lunches out, and interdepartmental competitions. 

You can even plan evening events, special dinners, and other relationship-building activities outside work hours to encourage positive working relationships. 

Do this while also supporting fun and sociable work environments. Employees will be more likely to share feedback, opinions, ideas, and thoughts with their colleagues

Team-building activities are also possible in remote work environments. Remote activities provide an opportunity for people to connect and build a sense of camaraderie and trust, which can be difficult to achieve when working remotely.

For example, organizations can organize virtual team-building activities or games that allow employees to get to know each other better. They can also organize video chats and virtual coffee breaks so that employees can have informal conversations with their colleagues. Additionally, organizations can host virtual seminars and workshops to help employees build relationships with each other and learn from each other.

By taking the time to invest in relationship-building and team-building activities, organizations can create a stronger, more cohesive remote workforce. These activities can help employees feel more connected to their coworkers, which can lead to improved communication and collaboration. Additionally, these activities can help foster a sense of belonging, which is essential for creating an engaged and productive remote team.

9. Enable Workflow Autonomy

Researchers from the Birmingham Business School in the U.K. discovered employees desire more control over their position within the organization, what they do, and the goals set for them. This research which included panel probit, analysis of covariance and change-score analysis showed that attaining greater autonomy not only optimizes one’s general happiness but also the connection between autonomy, job satisfaction, and leisure enjoyment – with this connection differing between genders. Crucially, increased control over tasks and being able to regulate the rate of work generate additional contentment in both jobs and leisure activities.

While every job comes with a distinct set of objectives, employees are more motivated and fulfilled when they can set some of their own goals along with strategies to reach them. 

The research completed by the Birmingham Business School also found that having greater levels of control over work tasks and schedules can lead to higher levels of reported well-being. This suggests that schedule control is an important factor when it comes to employees “enjoying” their work.

10. Encourage Personal Development 

According to Yahoo! Finance, 52% of Millennials and Gen Z workers feel that opportunities for advancement make an organization a more appealing place to work. Nobody wants to work in a stagnant workplace any more than they want a sedentary lifestyle. 

People want to feel like they are on a meaningful path (professionally and personally) that helps them accomplish their goals and overall objectives. You can assist them with this by discovering their ambitions and supporting their development.

Discovering one’s ambitions is a crucial step in the journey toward personal and professional fulfillment. People need to have a clear understanding of their goals and objectives, in order to be able to develop the skills and strategies necessary to achieve them.

The process of discovering one’s ambitions can be accomplished through self-reflection, conversations with friends and mentors, as well as professional development seminars or courses. Self-reflection is an important part of the discovery process, as it allows individuals to get in touch with their values, motivations, and desired outcomes. Conversations with friends and mentors can provide invaluable feedback and help individuals gain clarity on their ambitions. Last but not least, professional development seminars or courses offer the opportunity to broaden one’s knowledge and skills in order to make progress towards achieving one’s ambitions.

By helping others discover their ambitions, coaches, mentors, and other professionals can assist people in finding meaning and satisfaction in their lives. Through this process, individuals can find a renewed sense of purpose, as well as the direction necessary to bring their goals and objectives to fruition.

If you dedicate time to assisting employees in fulfilling their professional ambitions, they will likely remain with your organization for a longer period. Moreover, should the need arise for them to part ways, they will be more likely to give you some advance notice so that you can accordingly plan for a replacement, due to the trust built over time from your investment in them.

11. Practice Mindfulness

Stress impacts employee performance, whether that stressor is work-related or due to something going on at home. According to the Harvard Business Review, practicing mindfulness helps to alleviate stress and fatigue.  

Again, Headspace is a great tool for this. Several other resources are also available that encourage mindfulness in education. Mindfulness education is the purposeful inclusion of mindfulness theories, principles, and practices into education – for both employees and students. 

Use your dedication to employee well-being as a selling point when onboarding new hires. It’s an excellent way for future candidates and current staff to get to know your organization’s culture while also increasing brand engagement.

Benefits of Increased Employee Health and Well-Being

Various factors impact an employee’s health and well-being. While you have no control over their home life, there are certain elements of their working environment you, as their employer, can and do control. 

These include work settings, workloads, workplace professional relationships, work-life balance, job security, autonomy, and more. These factors can lead to physical and mental health issues that cause a decrease in productivity and concentration. 

For example, if you place demanding (and often unrealistic) workloads on your employees, you risk increases in burnout, leading to absenteeism and turnover. 

Likewise, studies highlight the link between physically and mentally healthy employees and productive workforces. While there are several personal and professional advantages for your employees, the benefits that impact your organization include:

  • Increased productivity: Employees that focus on self-care and a work-life balance tend to come to work more rejuvenated, well-rested, and generally in a better mood, making them more energetic and, therefore, more productive.
  • Reduced absenteeism: Exhaustion, stress, and other untreated mental health conditions can lead to health problems, which can cause people to miss work. Living a lifestyle focused on taking care of their physical and mental health can reduce illness, meaning people miss less work.
  • Improved employee retention: If your organization offers unlimited PTO or allows people to take off for mental health days, employees are more satisfied within their workplace. These employees are less likely to move to another company that does focus on the employees’ mental health and well-being.
  • Enhanced employee experience: When employees know that you prioritize their physical health and mental well-being, they’re happier at their jobs. They’re more likely to recommend the job to friends and family, which is great for recruitment.
  • Decreased burnout: With a focus on self-care and work-life balance, people are less likely to experience burnout. If you foster open lines of communication, your staff will know they can come to you when they feel burned out so you can partner with them to address the situation and not lose the employee.

If employee burnout is a concern, experts recommend DoCare – a complimentary online resource that allows you to Learn Your Burnout Lever for Free. That way, employee members (and yourself) can take measures to reduce burnout. 

Lastly, the health and well-being of the talent outside of the classroom enhance or diminish the impact teachers make inside the classroom. Ensure every employee member has the support they need.

Finding Solutions for Improved Employee Health and Well-Being

Offering resources employees can rely on can make all the difference. Normalizing health and well-being will go a long way in creating an environment of inclusion and giving staff a place to bring up these discussions. 

Finding the Right Fit

At WorkMonger, we offer comprehensive recruiting services to help you find the right employee for the job. Our team of experienced recruiters has the knowledge and expertise to ensure that you get the best candidates for your education organization.

We understand that recruiting the right person is essential for the success of your organization and that it can be a long and complicated process. That’s why we take the time to get to know you and your organization to ensure that we find the perfect fit

At WorkMonger, we are committed to helping you find the best candidate for your organization. Contact us today to learn how we can support your recruitment needs.

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