K–12 staff experience chronic stress and burnout at a greater rate than in other professions. This not only impacts their own health, but also their students’ well-being and academic success, all while leading to significant costs for school districts, reduced workplace morale, and leadership recruitment challenges. With the extra stress of the pandemic, schools and school districts are looking for ways to support their staff now more than ever, and they require solutions that will address underlying problems such as heavy workloads and toxic workplace cultures.
Since 2019, EdCan has been leading an awareness-building platform called Well at Work to increase knowledge about the need to make K–12 staff well-being a top policy and investment priority. Since then, our organization has built a network of Canadian educators, researchers, practitioners, and stakeholder groups who are passionate about and dedicated to advancing K–12 workplace well-being.
From 2021–2023, EdCan will continue to build awareness, while shifting its main focus toward catalyzing action with a wide variety of partners through Well at Work 2.0. Through a non-prescriptive approach, education leaders across Canada who are ready to take action will be supported to develop and implement individual, organizational, and systemic strategies to improve K–12 workplace well-being through four key solutions:
- Professional learning for school district leaders, principals, and wellness leads on actionable strategies to measure, implement, and evaluate comprehensive approaches to K–12 workplace well-being.
- A coaching platform for school and district leaders and teams to improve their own personal wellness while receiving guidance to embed mental well-being for all staff into their district’s culture, priorities, and structures.
- Facilitated provincial and pan-Canadian hubs to convene and connect stakeholders to advance issues related to workplace well-being and align their efforts to achieve them, including communities of practice for teachers and staff to provide them with a community of support and facilitate peer learning through sharing best practices.
- An economic study of the costs of K–12 staff stress and burnout, and the benefits of investing in positive mental health and well-being to offset these costs. A service for school districts will also be provided that compiles and analyzes their workplace well-being data in a cost-benefit report.
EdCan is grateful for the 75 stakeholders who generously shared their time, expertise, and perspectives in conceptualizing these programs. We look forward to working together to build capacity and coordinate impact among education leaders to enable them to develop their own context-specific solutions, which will sustain our collective efforts in the long-term.
Stay tuned for more details on Well at Work 2.0. In the meantime, you can browse our growing catalogue of K–12 workplace well-being information resources at www.edcan.ca/well-at-work.
First published in Education Canada, June 2021