"Are my people okay?"
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  • Jonno White

"Are my people okay?"



Employee wellbeing for Christian schools

At some point, all great heads of schools have asked, "Are my people okay?"

But how can you really know how your people are going?

Here's a framework based on Tom Rath’s book, Are You Fully Charged? and Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Truth About Employee Engagement to help Christian schools measure and improve employee wellbeing.

Part one—measuring employee wellbeing in a Christian school

There are four keys to measuring employee wellbeing in a Christian school.

1. Energy

Tom Rath defines energy as making choices that improve your mental and physical health.

Christian school staff who make poor choices regarding mental and physical health will inevitably perform poorly—and even have to step back altogether at some point either by resigning or changing careers.

How to measure:

  • Sleep

  • Exercise

  • Diet

2. Interactions

Tom Rath explains that interactions affect employee wellbeing when there are either more positive or negative interactions in a day.

More negative interactions than positive interactions = decreased employee wellbeing for your teachers and other staff.

More positive interactions than negative interactions = increased employee wellbeing for your teachers and other staff.

How to measure:

  • Daily interactions with people

3. Meaning

Meaning is third because it’s difficult to measure. However, it’s arguably most important.

Of all the events that engage people at work, the single most important, by far, is simply making progress in meaningful work – Harvard Study by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.

Patrick Lencioni calls this irrelevance. When we can’t see a direct link between our daily work and the positive impact it’s having on someone’s life, our employee wellbeing is negatively affected.

How to measure:

  • Stories of meaningful change

4. Measurables

Patrick Lencioni explains that without the ability to measure our own progress—to assess whether we’re succeeding or failing every day—our motivation for our work gradually decreases.

This is fourth because it’s the key to making a difference in employee wellbeing in your Christian school. By linking the first three points with this point, you can set things into motion that will measure and change employee wellbeing.

How to measure:

  • Create a list of daily measurables based on the first four points that your teachers and other staff self-assess on and report to their direct report along with official reporting. Meetings are challenging in schools because of the time required teaching and preparing for classes. Another option is to have a buddy system where people are encouraging one another in this area or having small groups that meet briefly regularly for as short as ten minutes and check in with one another.

Part two—improving employee wellbeing in a Christian school

The key to improving employee wellbeing is in the list of daily measurables your teachers and other staff create and holding them accountable to daily self-assessment and regular unofficial reporting on these measures.

A list of daily measurables might include:

Energy

  • How many hours are you sleeping each night?

  • What quality of sleep on a score from 0 to 10?

  • How regularly are you exercising?

  • What is your diet like?

Interactions

  • Keep track of memorable positive daily interactions

  • Keep track of memorable negative daily interactions

  • If there are too many negative interactions, help to plan positive interactions such as a daily conversation with encouraging staff or friends.

Meaning

  • Capture one story each day. A story of meaningful change in a student, parent or other staff member's life as a result of the school's work. The best three to five stories can then be told to their direct report, shared in staff meeting and even used in the school's marketing as well.

Measurables

  • How well are you measuring these things every day? If it’s not measured daily, it doesn’t count here. This list is about daily measurables. If it’s not working, keep tweaking it until you have a clear list of daily measurables and hold your employees accountable to self-assess daily and report to their direct report, buddy or small group regularly with their self-assessments.

How to feed back to your Christian school employees

Based on the reports back to direct reports, buddies or small groups on these daily measurables, the school leadership team can learn—anecdotally—what areas of employee wellbeing could improve in the school.

Is there a culture of working late and missing out on sleep across the school? If so, are you okay with that? If you're not okay with it, how can you support your staff to reduce their workload or help them in other ways?

As you and your school leadership team make recommendations to improve in these areas—energy, interactions, meaning and measurables—your teachers and other staff will feel listened to and cared about.

This process works well because school employees are able to self-assess and the head of school and school leadership team is in a posture of affirmation and encouragement in this area to complement more formal accountability in other areas of the school.

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