Revealed: the real causes of staffroom stress

While teachers are just as likely as 'workforce UK' to feel the pressure of excessive workload, some of the major causes of 'staffroom stress' are more surprising.  These are the amongst the key findings from Randstad's latest Employer Brand Research, the largest independent employee survey of its kind in the UK.

When asked to name their top five causes of workplace stress, amongst the 5,200 people questioned, 59% of people working in Education identified 'amount of work/feeling overwhelmed' as their number one problem.   This is in line with the result across all employment sectors of 57%.

the top 10 workplace challenges in education in 2017

However teachers' 'top 10 list' of workplace irritants reveals some interesting differences that school leaders should consider when faced with the challenge of maintaining staff morale:

  1. Amount of work/feeling overwhelmed: 58% of teachers (57% of all workers)
  2. Not being able to switch off: 51% (45%)
  3. Quality of leadership: 47% (43%)
  4. Daily commute/travel to work: 39% (40%)
  5. No career progression: 36% (36%)
  6. Meeting deadlines: 36% (36%)
  7. Colleagues/teammates: 33% (35%)
  8. Amount of meetings: 32% (26%)
  9. Degree of freedom at work: 31% (30%)
  10. Work environment: 31% (36%)

Top of the list of 'education pressure points' versus other professions is the perceived inability 'not to switch off' outside the classroom. This was identified as the number two challenge across all sectors, but with more than half of all teachers feeling the impact of 'not switching off', this is an issue that all school leaders need to be mindful of.  

Only those working in the agriculture and utilities sectors recorded a higher rating for this pressure point, while those working in IT and transport are the best at 'tuning out' when they get home.

fewer meetings... more teaching

Closer to home is the perceived impact of 'leadership' on the minds of nearly half of the teaching professionals surveyed. Our survey used the term leadership without specific reference to roles in schools or academies, so this sentiment may also reflect wider views of a 'leadership issue' in education overall.

Perhaps most surprising of all was the revelation that teachers are much more unhappy about the amount of time they spend in meetings than their counterparts in most other professions.  

One in four UK workers put 'meetings' in their top five stress points, but the figure in education is one in three. This result is marginally higher than for people working in finance and insurance, and nearly double the result for office-based admin workers. If all the issues on the list, these could be the easiest one to address in your school.  

Against these results, a more positive picture emerges when it comes to working relationships across the staffroom.  While one in three still identifies relationships with fellow teachers as a source of stress, the result is better than for 'workforce UK' and significantly better than a sector such as hospitality where half of all employees report suffering from poor relationships with colleagues.

The picture of how those working in education perceive a school as a place to work is also relatively positive.  It's easy to imagine that more typically 'modern' workplaces such as city offices would be more appealing places to work; however only IT professionals report a lower dissatisfaction with their working environments.

Added to that, education professionals placed 'technology/equipment at work' outside their top 10, and better still fewer than one in five teachers identified an 'aggressive culture in their top five.

Against the backdrop of pressures on funding and inspections, the message is that relatively speaking, in the UK schools remain a nice play to work.

To find out more about Randstad's research and what motivates people at work in 2017, speak to your local education recruitment specialist.


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