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“If you want staff to be nurturing then you need to nurture them”

Simple ideas such as a wellbeing basket (including deodorant, tampons mouthwash etc.) or anonymous staff suggestion boxes can be nice additions to a working environment. However, a deeper understanding of the importance of employee wellbeing and creating a culture where talking is actively encouraged is crucial for the wellbeing of the staff, and ultimately creating a happy and settled environment for the children.

Working in an early years setting can be a rewarding job but also a demanding and exhausting one.

It is well documented that a mother’s wellbeing affects her baby’s, but historically little attention has been paid to how a key person’s wellbeing may affect children in their care.

However, it is now firmly on the agenda, the last few EYFS framework and Ofsted criteria in England has identified the importance of the relationship between the child and key person.

Ideas to ensure high levels of employee wellbeing

  • Communication is key: asking questions such as – “How are you feeling today?” “How are you managing your workload?” “Do you feel supported?”
  • Ensuring that the demands of the job are acceptable.
  • Having policies or procedures in place to support individuals experiencing mental ill health at work.
  • Managers should familiarise themselves with the Health and Safety Executive’s stress management standards and use these to mitigate psychological risks in their teams. These cover six areas of work design that, if not managed, are associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates, the standards are;
    • Demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.
    • Control – How much say the person has in the way they do their work.
    • Support – this includes encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.
    • Relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.
    • Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles.
    • Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.
  • Ensuring that employees know who to approach with problems concerning their role and how to pursue issues with senior management.
  • Colleague ‘Thank You Board’ or ‘Staff Shout-out Boards’ – allowing other staff members to show appreciation for their co-workers e.g. “Julie did a fantastic job rearranging the outdoor cupboard, Thank you”
  • Improving physical health can stimulate positive mental health – encouraging groups to participate in walking or jogging or other forms of exercise together.
  • Revamping staff rooms to create a nicer place to take breaks and relax.
  • Acknowledging and providing specific training with information on avoided subjects such as menopause.
  • Regular questionnaires/wellbeing audits, not only helping to identify key issues but also identify any patterns e.g. times of the year where there appears to be higher levels of stress.
  • Stressor Questionnaire – helping the team understand each other’s roles, knowing each other’s workload and responsibilities meaning we are aware of when someone may need help, someone to take the load off them or just to ask, ‘Are you OK?’
  • Acknowledge special occasions e.g. Birthdays.
  • Incorporate open discussions about wellbeing issues in team meetings by having it on the agenda, helping to reduce the stigma of it being a sensitive avoided subject and encouraging people to speak more openly about how they have been feeling.
  • A mentoring system – where staff are buddied up and are there to support each other.
  • Where possible accommodate staff requests e.g. allowing them to attend their child’s nativity or graduation etc.
  • Training staff in coping skills, thinking strategies, relaxation techniques and time management approaches.
  • Holding exiting interviews- ensuring that employers are fully aware of the exact reasoning behind employees leaving the setting, in order to guarantee everything is in order for their replacement. It is the employer’s chance to learn what they are doing right, areas they can improve on and resolve any issues there may have been in particular regarding his/her wellbeing.
  • Holding returning-to-work interviews – to welcome employees back, ensure they are well enough to resume their duties, and to get a better understanding of their problem and find possible prevention methods to avoid the situation again, e.g. their illness could have been caused by stress of caring for an elderly relative in which case you could help establish or make suggestions regarding this issue, or if the root of the problem was bullying in the workplace it needs to be discussed and investigated further to ensure prevention of further bullying.
  • Conducting Maternity Risk Assessments
  • Establishing rules and regulations regarding contacting colleagues – e.g. ensuring that If an employee was to call off sick, they were not contacting managers during anti-social hours where they are likely to cause disturbance, negatively affecting their wellbeing.

If we can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to contact us on 01527 909436.