Testing and Adapting Two Innovative Approaches to Workplace Wellbeing in K-12 Education
Study results and practical tools for school leaders
The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) generates and applies behavioural insights to inform policy, improve public services, and deliver positive results for people and communities. BIT works in partnership with governments, local authorities, businesses and charities, often using simple behaviour changes to tackle policy.
Behavioural insights is an approach that uses evidence of the conscious and non-conscious drivers of human behaviour to address practical issues. It is an approach inspired by the more nuanced and realistic understanding of human behaviour offered up by research in the behavioural sciences. Early applications of behavioural insights focused primarily on making small changes to how government services were structured and communicated. For example, a well known trial dramatically brought forward tax payments by informing late tax payers of the “descriptive social norm” that nine out of ten people pay their tax on time. In the decade since the phrase “behavioural insights” was coined, practitioners have started tackling increasingly complex challenges, like trying to find light-touch approaches to reduce burnout and increase workplace wellbeing.
BIT created and tested organizational approaches to improve school wellbeing in Canada. To develop organizational approaches, BIT conducted exploratory research including a literature review of current wellbeing and burnout initiatives, qualitative interviews with educators in Canada, and interviews with leading academics. These activities grounded the project in the best available evidence and the lived experience of Canadian educators. Following this exploratory research, BIT, with continued input from a range of Canadian educators, developed two low-cost, scalable approaches for evaluation in a randomized controlled trial.
Schools from British Columbia, Manitoba and Alberta were invited to participate in the trial. A total of 2,178 school staff completed a baseline survey, and 1,217 of them (from three Canadian provinces, five school districts, and 109 schools) consented to participate in the study.