16 October 2023

Wellness is not a destination, it's a way of life.


Wellbeing in the workplace has been on the agenda for many years but has become more prevalent in recent years, especially since the pandemic.

So, what is wellbeing and how does it affect us in the workplace?

When we have good levels of wellbeing, we feel happy and can generally cope with the ‘everyday’, as well as feeling like we have a good balance in our life. We feel motivated and show resilience and we are able to ‘bounce back’ from small setbacks. 


Peddles stacked on beach


In the Early Years, practitioners are often doing and thinking about a number of different things at any one time in an ever-increasingly demanding role. It is vital that staff are given the right emotional and practical support so they can effectively support the children and their families in their care.

As well as having a positive impact on staff and children, staff wellbeing can improve job satisfaction and performance, which in turn can lead to a reduction in staff turnover. It can also help to reduce staff absence which will support management of the school or setting budget.


Did you know?


  • 50% of employees have experienced at least one characteristic of burn out due to greater job demands and expectations, lack of social interaction and lack of boundaries between work and home life. (Deloitte UK Mental Health Report (2022))
  • Almost half of workers (46%) say they’ve worked in recent months despite not feeling physically or mentally well enough to perform their duties. (CIPD good work index (2022))

With these numbers on the increase, we need to be thinking carefully about how we can support mental health in our schools and settings for our Early Years workforce as well as the children and families we serve.

Many efforts are put in to support staff wellbeing from ‘mental health days’ to chocolate in the staffroom, but do these types of gesture really have a positive impact on staff wellbeing? A new term increasingly being used is ‘wellbeing washing’. Wellbeing washing is when an organisation publicly displays support for mental health initiatives but lacks adequate mental wellbeing support ( No leader or manager is intentionally doing the wrong thing, but getting to the root cause of staff stress and worries is key to effective wellbeing support. 


Time for change


What can leaders and managers do?

Here are some effective ideas to support good mental health and wellbeing:

  • Working with staff to create policies and guidelines
  • Regular and effective supervisions
  • Provide mental health and wellbeing training
  • Provide access to mental health services and support
  • Create a strong organisational culture which promotes open communication, empathy and understanding, and ensure leaders set the example of taking work-life balance seriously
  • Seek feedback from staff, and use it to make positive changes

Key definitions


Attending work despite illness and so not performing at full ability.


Days absent from work in relation to mental health issues.


Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy.

Wellbeing washing

Wellbeing washing is when an organisation publicly displays support for mental health initiatives but lacks adequate mental wellbeing support.

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