Staff Wellbeing in Higher Education
A research report that looks at the positive and negative factors that influence higher education staffs’ wellbeing, and how it can be improved.
The research was carried out using in-depth interviews with 25 members of staff working in Higher Education institutions.
The main findings from the report:
- Professionals in Higher Education actively consider their own wellbeing and that of their students.
- Respondents do not feel they have expertise in the area of wellbeing or mental health but recognise its complexity.
- Wellbeing is maximised when people feel valued, well-managed, have good workplace collegiality and can act with agency and autonomy.
- Management approaches that prioritise accountability measures and executive tasks over teaching, learning and research tasks were cited as having a negative impact on staff wellbeing.
- There was a perceived dichotomy between the priorities of teaching staff and administrators. In some interviews it was seen as valuing money from student intake over providing high quality of teaching.
- Participants overwhelmingly identified the consumer model as a driver of management priorities.
- The drive for student numbers and the competition between universities – for example, Russell Group versus non-Russell Group – was seen as a generator of pressure that negatively affects wellbeing.
- Bereavement and support associated with bereavement was mentioned by half of the respondents when discussing wellbeing.
- Several respondents said they would actively choose not to use in-house processes and procedures to deal with their own wellbeing and mental health issues at a time when trust had been eroded.
- In general, respondents did not feel empowered to make a difference to the way that Higher Education institutions deal with wellbeing issues and this generated some cynicism.
- All respondents saw a clear, though hard to define, link between wellbeing and mental health.