The importance of giving staff a voice

Read how Germaine Saad, assistant principal at St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox College in Victoria Australia used our wellbeing survey software to get a clear picture of how her staff are feeling.

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The importance of giving staff a voice

To support educators, it’s necessary to first understand their individual needs. Last year’s unprecedented challenges due to lockdown and varying regulatory changes across Australia highlighted the importance of communication between all school community members. Particularly between teachers and their leadership teams.

Now that many schools have returned to face-to-face learning, it’s essential to consider how to carry on lessons learned through school closures, to improve lines of communication between staff and leaders.

But, how can schools get a clear picture of how staff are truly feeling, and demonstrate feedback is heard and acted upon? These were the questions Germaine Saad, assistant principal at St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox College in Victoria Australia, set out to resolve.

Adopting a new model of communication

Saad identified a need in her school to gain an in-depth understanding of the perspective from staff beyond the information provided in yearly surveys. However, the prospect of setting up a more routine staff survey created a need for more resources; more IT support would be required to run regular surveys and additional time from the leadership team would be needed to continually create tailored questions. These issues made the prospect of running a routine staff survey almost logistically and financially impossible for a single school to run.

The solution came when Saad adopted Staff Pulse, a staff wellbeing survey tool, with 82 education-specific questions developed by a psychologist. Staff Pulse allowed St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox College to run fortnightly surveys of 10 questions addressing topics such as communication, workload, support and enjoyment that takes only a few minutes for staff to complete.

The tool helped Saad open up lines of communication by giving staff a safe space to vocalise their feedback and concerns using the anonymous conversations feature. With this feature, staff have been able to speak directly to the leadership team about what they would like to see improvements on, without having to identify themselves. Leaders can respond to these comments quickly to help resolve any concerns as they arise. 

This has allowed Saad to have honest conversations with her staff on how the leadership team can support them and has allowed her school to get a real-time understanding of how staff were feeling, and to track changes in wellbeing based on what point the school was at in the term, or if any changes were happening in the school.

Using communication for change

It’s not uncommon for staff to feel their needs aren’t being heard, especially in a busy school environment. In many cases, senior leaders are developing plans to act upon staff feedback, but staff may not be aware of these plans at times issues are most prevalent to them. With the tools to collect staff feedback and track survey responses every fortnight, Saad was able to guide her actions to address issues quickly, and assure staff of improvements being made using the conversations feature.

For example, within the first term of using the survey software, Saad was able quickly to address concerns surrounding communication. By understanding staff’s need to improve communication between leadership and staff she planned a professional development day for leaders to focus on communication skills. Additionally, teachers commented they needed more time for planning. To support staff the school reorganised meeting times in term 1 to allow staff to devote themselves to lesson planning. The survey results from Staff Pulse following these actions have shown to help improve staff sentiment and wellbeing significantly.

Germaine Saad says she would “definitely” recommend Staff Pulse to other schools:

“I like Staff Pulse because it gives a sense of security for my staff. It lets them say what they want to without worrying about repercussions. I can open up a conversation and engage more ideas and opinions, and they can respond to me so we can have professional discussions where they feel safe to say what they want.”

To learn more on how Staff Pulse can support your school visit: tes.com/staff-pulse