Key takeaways

  • Recognizing the financial impact of neglecting teacher well-being serves as a wake-up call for schools and leadership teams to invest in resources that benefit not only teachers but the entire school community.
  • Despite the common knowledge of the stress teachers face, there's a surprising lack of investment in well-being measures, despite the significant impact on teacher mental health and student outcomes.
  • Understanding the substantial costs associated with poor teacher wellbeing, such as absenteeism and turnover, highlights the importance of prioritizing proactive measures to support staff health and happiness, ultimately enhancing school culture and performance.

There are unlimited resources regarding the importance of positive teacher well-being and the impact negative well-being can have on teachers, student progression, and colleagues’ workloads. However, less explicit reference is made to just how much money neglecting well-being as a whole-school priority has on our schools. This may be because putting a monetary value on teacher ill-health can seem insensitive, although this is not what is intended.

By drawing attention to the amount of money spent as a consequence of poor well-being - it’s instead meant to act as a wake-up call for schools and leadership teams, so they can see the expense of not focusing on well-being in a bid to encourage them to invest in teacher wellbeing and other resources that will work at benefiting the whole school.

It’s no secret that teaching is stressful, in fact, research shows that 61% of teachers are stressed out and 58% said their mental health is not good - with this being common knowledge, it’s a wonder more isn’t done to address these issues through investing in better well-being measures.

My headache is killing me Mid adult Japanese woman is having a migraine attack. She is trying to perfom head massage to ease the pain teacher sad stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

The consequences of poor well-being include absenteeism, presenteeism, and in the worst cases, quitting. These, of course, all have serious implications for students and fellow teachers, but the cost of these is also huge. Sickness, in general, is a huge economic drain with it costing US employers $225.8 billion annually, and it’s suggested that the impact of presenteeism can cost more than absenteeism.

To put this into perspective for education, about 28 percent of America’s public school teachers, or roughly 900,000 educators, are missing more than 10 days of school a year, making them “chronically absent” by federal government standards. The percentage of the causes of absence is unknown, but regardless, the cost that schools are spending on substitute teachers as a result of absences is substantial, with the cost of substitute teachers at $4 billion annually.

Of course, the worst-case consequence of poor teacher well-being is resigning which, unfortunately, isn’t too unfamiliar with. About half a million (15% of) U.S. teachers leave the profession every year

Schools spend more than $20,000 on each new hire, including school and district expenses related to separation, recruitment, hiring, and training.

Teachers are a resource that we can ill afford to lose - not only does teachers quitting their jobs mean we have fewer experienced teachers to educate our students, but it also means an abundance of expenses on recruitment. Schools spend more than $20,000 on each new hire, including school and district expenses related to separation, recruitment, hiring, and training.

The price that is attributed to well-being is huge, considering that there are many steps that can be taken between the first symptoms of poor well-being and resigning and that focusing on well-being needn’t be expensive. Simple changes can have a huge impact when it comes to the happiness and health of your staff such as changes in attitudes, different prioritization of your SIP, and better channels through which teachers can share their opinions.

When we look at the simple steps that can be taken to improve well-being, it makes the excessive amount of money schools are spending to counteract the effects of poor well-being unjust. In order to help drive home the importance of investing in well-being, think about not only the effects of positive well-being, such as better teacher health and student attainment but how it would enhance school culture and the opportunity to invest money into resources that would work at whole-school improvements.

Focus on teacher wellbeing to improve retention in schools

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it's evident that neglecting teacher well-being not only impacts individuals but also carries a hefty financial burden for schools. By recognizing the significant costs associated with poor well-being, schools and leadership teams are urged to prioritize investment in resources that support staff health and happiness. Addressing these issues not only benefits teachers but also enhances school culture and performance, ultimately leading to a more positive and productive learning environment for everyone involved.  

Author: Bethany Spencer

Posted: 12 Feb 2020

Estimated time to read: 7 mins

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