Education sector ignoring employee health, say almost half of teachers
Following recent strikes, a new study finds a quarter of teachers have worked whilst physically or mentally unwell
More than 2 in 5 teachers reported the education sector is either passively or actively failing to look after employee physical health (44%) and employee mental health (41%), new data has revealed.
Teachers are the most likely employees to work through physical illness, with almost a quarter (24%) having done so in the last year. The data also shows that more than 1 in 4 teachers have worked whilst mentally unwell.
Pressures such as Ofsted inspections, excessive workloads, and low pay during the current cost of living crisis – combined with gaps in employer support – are causing an increase in mental and physical health issues for teachers. Over three-quarters (76%) said they’ve experienced at least some decline in physical or mental health due to their work. Some 40% reported increased anxiety and 24% cited back/neck pain.
The 2023 UK Employee Health, Wellbeing & Habits study asked over 1,000 employees for insights into their health over the last year. The aims were to discover how changing working patterns are affecting employees’ health and wellbeing, and see how UK companies can better support their workforce in this area.
The study also found that teachers are picking up quick-fix habits to cope, which are negatively impacting their physical and mental health. 35% of teachers are eating more unhealthy food and almost a fifth (17%) have been drinking alcohol more frequently over the last 12 months.
What can the education sector do?
A staggering 85% of teachers want their company to be more proactive in boosting employee health, wellbeing and healthy habits.
- 36% of teachers want managers trained to provide better mental health support and prevent stressful work environments
- 36% believe in promoting the use of sick leave when people are struggling with physical or mental health
- 26% of teachers want training in stress management
The education sector also benefits from contributing to teachers’ health and wellbeing: it leaves 42% of teachers feeling more productive at work. When supported, almost 2 in 5 (39%) report feeling engaged with their work and 37% say they’re less likely to seek job opportunities elsewhere.
Claire Brown, qualified life and career coach, says:
“Employees must be encouraged to prioritise their health and wellbeing above productivity, by taking regular breaks from the screen and getting fresh air, where possible. Providing alternative and innovative ways for connection and communication between team members is also really valuable.
“Additionally, by adopting a flexible attitude and approach to how and when work is completed, companies can alleviate some of the pressure. As always, communication is key. It’s important for employers to be fair and realistic about what is possible and provide practical support to help team members manage their workloads.”