How Your Independent School Can Benefit from a Staff Wellness Program

Many independent schools have wellness policies in place, or have begun the process of implementing one. In a 2015 NAIS survey, 21 percent of independent schools that responded reported that they had a health or well-being policy. Wellness is an integral piece of the health and prevention puzzle, but schools who only address student wellness miss an incredible opportunity to keep teachers and staff healthy, save money, reduce teacher burnout and improve student outcomes. Wellness is the process by which we achieve a more successful existence through improvements in our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Not only will a wellness culture have the immediate effect of boosting health in staff, and prevention during flu season, but the lasting effects of better employee retention, better student outcomes and an expanded wellness culture throughout the entire institution will result. In this paper, we provide an overview of research and recommendations for inclusive wellness policies that can help your independent school tap into all of these benefits, and more.

Why Teachers in Particular Need Wellness Policies

Private school teachers are about twice as likely to leave private schools as public school teachers are to leave public schools and turnover rates among private school teachers have increased even more rapidly than those of public school teachers. One study shows how teacher stress is correlated with lower levels of student effective learning and lower motivation.

What a Wellness Policy for Your Staff Might Look Like

One comprehensive study found that wellness programs for employees at schools that focus on a broad array of wellness components such as nutrition, physical activity, and stress management “have been shown to increase teacher morale, improve perceptions of being able to handle job stress, reduce absenteeism, and result in higher levels of overall well-being.” This study also found documented cost savings and impacts on student outcomes related to having healthy teachers and school staff.

Some of the key aspects needed in a wellness program for the staff at an independent school include:
  • Multiple components of wellness rather than just one or two components

  • A work environment that incorporates wellness into regular parts of the work day

  • Open communication that fosters a culture that prioritizes the reduction of stress.

  • Technology that can help wellness programs engage with more people and encourage participation

  • Bring together the entire school community, including staff, students and parents to support community-wide wellness goals

  • Measurement opportunities that track individual and group progress toward specific goals

(Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6350815/)

Independent schools are uniquely positioned to broaden wellness initiatives to include staff and to reap the benefits of this approach to illness prevention that will extend far beyond flu season.

 For more information about how your independent school may design a comprehensive wellness program for faculty and staff, review  recommendations from the CDC on The Whole Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) Model and the the Healthy Schools Program Framework (HSPF) from The Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

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