How Do Colleague Relationships Impact Staff Wellbeing?

Author: Antoinette Morris

Posted: 02 Feb 2023

Estimated time to read: 5 mins

Many teachers and staff members understand the value of solid relationships with headteachers, school administrators, and others in leadership roles. What they don’t always realise, however, is the importance of strong relationships with each other.

When colleague relationships improve, so can staff wellbeing. 

Why do relationships with colleagues matter for staff wellbeing?

Better colleague relationships can lead to a happier, healthier, and more enjoyable work environment.

Below are some specific ways positive relationships improve wellbeing among teachers and other school staff members:

Improved mental health

When school staff have meaningful relationships with each other, their mental health can improve. Human connection in the workplace is vital in reducing depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. 

Increased job satisfaction

If staff work in an environment that is conducive to their mental wellbeing, they’re more likely to feel satisfied with that environment and their job overall.

Many schools are currently experiencing increased staff turnover. Increasing job satisfaction is one way to combat that turnover and encourage employees to remain loyal long-term. 

Missed our webinar on Job Satisfaction? Catch up here

Increased engagement

Healthy, happy employees are more likely to be engaged at work. They perform their jobs with more enthusiasm and are more present and attentive when working with pupils.

Increased productivity

Engaged employees are also productive employees. They’re able to get more done in less time, and they make fewer mistakes while on the job.

Increased engagement and productivity can both create better learning environments for pupils, too.

Most children can tell when their teachers enjoy their job or are just going through the motions. If they feel that their teacher is invested, they’re more likely to be invested too.

Relationship with colleagues thumbnail

Why staff wellbeing matters in the current climate

Throughout the UK, schools are struggling with teacher and staff shortages.

Employees are quitting their jobs in droves in search of higher-paying and less stressful positions. In fact,  44% of teachers in England plan to leave their jobs within the next five years. 

This mass exodus doesn’t just hurt students and prevent them from getting the quality education they deserve, it also stresses the teachers and staff members who choose to stay.

More stress for current teachers and school staff harms their wellbeing and increases their chances of dealing with stress-related health and wellness issues. It also increases the likelihood that they, too, will decide to leave their jobs. 

How to improve colleague relationships in schools

Headteachers and administrators can help to facilitate better relationships between colleagues in the following ways:

Host events and activities

Adults, like children, sometimes need a push to get together and get to know one another. 

Regularly hosting events and activities with this purpose in mind creates opportunities for colleagues to meet, exchange critical details about each other, and bond over shared interests.

These kinds of events can be especially beneficial before the school year starts.

A mixer or get-to-know-you event allows new and old teachers and staff to meet and mingle. It also ensures that employees have a chance to get to know each other before they’re thrust into the hustle and bustle of a packed school.  

Encourage and model active listening

The strongest relationships are built on the foundation of active listening. When colleagues are genuinely invested in getting to know one another and understanding what the other has to say, it’s easier for them to build long-lasting, genuine connections.

Active listening involves more than just hearing the words someone else is saying. The listener must also actively strive to interpret those words and understand their meaning rather than simply waiting for their turn to speak.

Invite open, honest feedback

An environment that encourages honest feedback will likely facilitate healthy relationships between colleagues. Teachers and staff should feel comfortable sharing feedback with one another. They should also feel safe sharing feedback with headteachers and administrators (and receiving feedback from them). 

To create an environment that encourages honest feedback, those in leadership positions should set an example. They should explain that they want to hear feedback and practise responding positively and productively. 

Celebrate memories and milestones

Celebrating memories and milestones is a fun but productive way to encourage relationships between teachers and staff members.

Birthday parties or celebrations of the anniversary of when someone was first hired are great ways to bring some levity into the job and let employees know they’re appreciated. These events also naturally lend themselves to socialisation and give employees a chance to get to know one another better.

Use surveys to strengthen colleague relationships

Regularly distributing surveys and reviewing the data can give headteachers and administrators more insight into staff relationships, wellbeing, and where improvement is needed.  

Looking to learn more about the effect of colleague relationships on staff wellbeing?

Satchel is teaming up with education expert Jon Tait for a webinar on the role ‘Relationship with Colleagues’ plays in influencing staff wellbeing. 

Staff Wellbeing Webinar Series: Relationship with manager

22/02/23 at 12pm GMT

This webinar will discuss:

  • Why ‘Relationship with Colleagues’ is important for staff wellbeing
  • How can we gather data on this area of wellbeing 
  • Actionable strategies for improving staff wellbeing

Sign up for the webinar here

Can't make it? Sign up and we will send you a copy of the webinar on the day