Time and time again, it has been proven that when staff are overloaded with work this can take its toll on their mental health. And if your staff feel like the only solution to improving their mental wellbeing is to leave your setting, something needs to change. Here are a variety of avenues to explore that can help take care of your staff’s overall wellbeing.
Providing access to helpful resources is a great way of supporting your nursery staff’s mental health. A good place to start is the NHS website where a variety of mental health charities – specific to certain conditions – can be found.
Additionally, if you have a staff member who is comfortable enough with sharing their experience with managing their mental illness, set a time and space for them to speak to the rest of your team. This is powerful for a number of reasons: this helps to remove the stigma still currently plaguing mental illness, it encourages open conversations about real mental illness issues, and it shows your staff ‘here is a person just like me, working in the same company/similar position who has overcome what I’m currently struggling with.’ No member of staff should ever be forced or coerced into this. Send a friendly message to your team informing them that this is welcomed should they be interested.
One option to look into is to offer healthy snacks or meals at your setting. It’s no news that nourishing your body properly has many physical and mental health benefits. We’re not saying you have to provide 5 star salmon dishes, but fresh fruit, veggies, protein bars and so on help to balance a person’s blood sugar levels and regulate moods.
This one is a biggie. If your team is overloaded with work, physical and mental exhaustion will start to creep in. A day spent at a childcare setting is typically very busy, but busy does not have to mean stressful. One way to ensure this is to give your staff enough breaks. Naturally there are busier and less busy times as seen in any workplace, but your goal is to steady those levels for your team as much as possible. Explore nursery management softwares as a solution. Features like staff worklog and staff rota make scheduling easy and ensure that your staff don’t get burnt out.
When staff feel a sense of community in and outside the workplace with their colleagues, it is a big incentive to stay. No one would want to leave a group where they are appreciated, can thrive professionally, and can share a few laughs and tears. Social activities outside of work can act as a major de-stresser. This could be as simple as eating a meal at a restaurant, or you can take it a step further with team activities. Ultimately, setting aside time for this helps with staff bonding which promotes better working relationships while on the job!
If you are able to, why not create a space that is away from the noise and hub-bub of the setting where any one of your staff members can go for a breather? This is not a chat room or breakroom, but rather a quiet area where staff can settle their thoughts, do some breathing and/or meditation – where they know they will not be bothered. Set some rules for this space like no mobiles and no talking so that your staff can get the most out of it. Nothing fancy is required; throw down some cushions on the floor together with a comfy rug to set the scene with some calming music and you’re good to go.
Of course, turnover is unavoidable, so your nursery business must be prepared to lose top talent. Whether this is after a leader has helped you to get that Ofsted Outstanding and wants to move on, or a practitioner who has been offered a promotion at another setting – people leave. If you feel it appropriate, you can enter into negotiations for them to stay, but at the same time you don’t want someone at your setting who doesn’t want to be there anymore. This is where succession planning comes into play. This is particularly important for those positions that are high level, or that are hard-to-hire for. With a thorough succession plan in place, it will feel less like someone has ripped the rug out from under you.