Why small gestures matter when it comes to employee wellbeing

office festive, christmas

By Laura Baker, Deputy Head of School, Park Line Primary School and Nursery

This Christmas at Park Lane School and Nursery we created an advent calendar for our team with different and unique gifts each day that focused on wellbeing.

Of course, daily chocolate would be fantastic, but for our team, little gifts like having an SLT member mark your books, or a gentle start to a school day, are like gold dust.

The idea behind the initiative was to provide ‘little Christmas miracles’ that give the recipient a nice uplift to their day. As a Griffin Schools Trust school, we have a core focus on wellbeing, and we look for every opportunity possible to support our team’s mental health.

You may be wondering how an initiative within a school can work for your business, but since the UK education sector employs 1.5 million people and teaching is proven to be one of the most stressful professions, we know a thing or two about supporting employees.

The advent calendar is one small way in which we help support out employees, but there are many such examples of the support and care that we show throughout the year. We have recently turned the old style staffroom into a teacher lounge; a relaxing sanctuary, tea and coffee on tap, to enjoy along with the beautiful décor.

You’ll notice that none of these initiatives are difficult to implement. The advent calendar was a simple email and the teacher lounge was created on the same budget as any other, by reclaiming furniture and a frugal approach to décor.

The thing is, many of our wellbeing initiatives, when looked at individually, can be seen as small gestures; they’re easy to make happen. But they add up, and there is a world of difference between organisations who choose to ‘switch on’ such quick wins, and those who don’t bother at all.

I consider these small gestures as discretionary effort from the school to its staff. We are not mandated to run these initiatives. Yet we do. We care about our staff and will do everything in our power to support them. After all, they’re in charge of the most precious thing – the children.

This also works the other way around. Discretionary effort from our staff – when someone goes beyond their duty – is rewarded via further initiatives, such as our ‘golden ticket’ prize.

I believe there are so many opportunities for small gestures to both thank your team and support their wellbeing. You may think that because they’re small that they don’t matter; but they really do. Small gestures add up. The more you do, the more people take notice.

A positive workforce is a productive workforce. In our case, it results in the best environment to teach our children and create tomorrow’s leaders. For you, it may result in the best financial year to date. Small gestures – small, but very much worth it.

Laura BakerAbout the author

Laura Baker is Deputy Head of School at Park Lane Primary School and Nursery, part of the Griffin Schools Trust. Having graduated from the University of Bedfordshire, Laura began teaching at a Junior School in Luton before joining Park Lane in 2017 as a class teacher. Following a series of appointments to English Lead, Year 5/6 Phase Leader, and then Assistant Head, Laura became Deputy Head of School in April 2021.

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