I recently asked a teacher what she'd change about her job. "To not be bitten," she said. "I can take being hit. I just prefer not to be bitten."
The stress this teacher experiences is too common. Imagine an average teacher's day-every minute accounted for in the classroom. Her bathroom break is during a 25-minute lunch which, by the way, includes meeting a team-teacher, a phone call to the parents of a troubled student, and you know, perfecting lesson plans to teach our children.
All this and her day isn't even half over.
Like many American workers, teachers face increasing work demands with little or no additional resources. Money is tight. Still, most teachers help pay for some classroom supplies-the average American teacher spends $513 out-of-pocket yearly.
But if you ask a teacher about the $500, or what they make, they'll say money isn't the point. They got into teaching to make a difference.
Here's the heart of the matter:
No matter how much your best employee loves her/his job,
create unreasonable stress at work
and even s/he has a breaking point.
Reducing unhealthy stress at work
"Employers literally have the power to make employees sick or a whole lot better," says Katherine Sanders, a workplace systems engineer. "When work treats people like machines they get migraines. They don't return on Monday."
The Trust is actually working with Katherine to design programs that help educational leaders build a more socially-focused work system-one that helps teachers stay healthy and do their best.
What can you do to reduce unhealthy stress in your organization? Katherine says we ought to re-assess workload, give people as much autonomy as we can, and most of all, acknowledge the desire for meaning at work.
"Work isn't just our occupation. It's our identity," she says. "When we find meaning at work, we feel better, healthier."
I say we redefine our "health care system" to include more than hospitals, doctors and insurance plans. The new paradigm includes our own personal self-care (see my blog on self-care), plus a workplace system that values our human search for meaning.
Heavy stuff… but healthy stuff.
Next blog: creating a communication plan for employees.
Till then, take care.