How to collect staff feedback on workload and wellbeing

Written by: Katherine Fowler | Published:
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...and don't forget to include support staff in these conversations. Many are shouldering a lot of ...

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, it is important to check in on your staff to see how remote learning and Covid restrictions are affecting their workload and wellbeing. Katherine Fowler shares some practical tips on how to talk to your staff and gather feedback, so that you can help effectively

Have individual, informal conversations with your staff

We recommend you have informal chats, rather than using a survey as you might usually. This is because workload and wellbeing can be sensitive topics – especially when talking about the impact of Covid-19. Also, many teachers report that they prefer to talk about these things, and a questionnaire or survey can feel like extra workload.

If you are talking remotely rather than in person, make sure you both have your webcams on – it can be much harder to talk honestly if you cannot see who you are talking to.

If you are talking in person, keep things informal but make sure you pick a time and space where staff feel relaxed and safe to share their concerns with you.

Listen to any concerns raised without judgement – do not get defensive or try to justify things that your staff are finding difficult. Remember that issues around workload and wellbeing are very personal.

Do not expect everyone to have the same worries, concerns or opinions – what is working well for one member of staff may be a cause of stress for someone else. For example, teaching remotely will probably be less complicated for a teacher who lives alone than for a teacher who is having to self-isolate with young children.

Target your questions, rather than asking everyone the same things

Think about what topics to discuss and then target your questions for staff. For example, if you want to know how remote learning is going and how staff are coping with it, direct these questions to members of staff who have had children in their class self-isolating, or to staff who have had to work remotely themselves.

You can use the following as prompts for discussion, rather than as a formal set of questions – ask as many or as few as you think appropriate.

School safety: Ask staff about how your school has re-opened, and how it makes them feel. In particular, you could ask:

  • Where in school do you feel safe?
  • Are there areas where you do not feel so safe?
  • What would make you feel safer?
  • Do you feel you have enough time to do your job on top of Covid-related requirements (for example, do you still have enough time for lesson planning)?

Managing remote learning: You will want to know about the challenges staff are facing as they get to grips with juggling remote and classroom learning. You could ask:

  • Which areas of remote learning are working well?
  • Which areas of remote learning are causing problems or difficulties?
  • How could we make things run more smoothly?
  • How have you found mixing classroom and remote teaching?
  • Do you have enough planning and preparation time for classroom and remote teaching?

Managing remote learning: If you are using a remote learning platform such as Office 365 Education or G Suite for Education, ask:

  • What do you like about the platform?
  • Are you having any issues or problems with the platform?
  • Are there any ways you think we could use the platform differently to make things easier/better?

Worries and concerns: Find out where your staff are struggling, or what they are finding hardest. Ask for their suggestions about how things could be improved. In particular, you could ask:

  • Are there any tasks that you feel are taking up too much time, or are not necessary?
  • Would you prefer to be doing things in a different way? How?
  • What is taking up most of your time? Does this feel appropriate – are these things the most important?
  • Do you need more time to work on priority areas of your job?

Prioritise feedback and make changes

There is unlikely to be a single solution that will improve wellbeing for every staff member. However there are a number of ways you can deal with and prioritise feedback.

First, look for common themes – is there anything that is causing a problem for most of your staff? Think about your school's priorities and tackle the issues that relate to these first. Think about how easy the changes will be to make – are there any issues that have quick fixes? You will also need to consider the cost of making changes – for example, if your staff do not like your remote learning platform, would it be more cost-effective to improve training rather than change the platform?

  • Katherine Fowler is a content editor at The Key, which provides intelligence and resources for education leaders. The advice in this article is taken from The Key’s resource “Coronavirus: How to collect staff feedback on workload and wellbeing”. Visit

...and don't forget to include support staff in these conversations. Many are shouldering a lot of the burden to help out their teaching colleagues while still aiming to deliver full in-person support to students.
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