Using a staff wellbeing survey to shape your wellbeing culture

Staff wellbeing won't work as an add on; it needs to be embedded in your school culture. Rather than doing wellbeing to staff, use this survey to ask them what they want and need

Author details

Mike Lamb is director of staff and pupil wellbeing at Hurstierpoint College. A previous head of year and housemaster, Mike has developed and designed whole school wellbeing programmes and believes these should be at the heart of every school.

A culture of staff wellbeing will:

  • show staff that management and the school genuinely value them
  • provide a happy, positive environment which supports staff members to help them achieve their best. 

Fantastic! But what does that culture look like in practice? How do you embed and develop it?

Developing your wellbeing culture

Your staff wellbeing culture will be unique to your school. The table below gives some suggestions of different aspects of culture to consider, and examples of how they could manifest in practice.

Aspect What this could look like in practice

Managers always say thank you to staff.

An end of term awards ceremony celebrates staff and the unsung heroes e.g. catering staff or cleaners, without whom the school can't function.


The school has a learning culture. Staff expertise is recognised and utilised in developing others. For example, staff run mindfulness, sign language or computing sessions.

Relevant student resources (e.g. online language courses or touch typing) are available to staff for self-development.


Everyone has someone they can talk to when they need a listening ear. School counselling sessions are available to staff where needed.

Managers use a coaching style. Appraisals are an opportunity for development conversations.

Staff voice Staff have various platforms to ask questions of management and provide feedback (e.g. regular questionnaires, staff committees, forums etc).

Management adopt an open-door policy. Staff know who to contact if they have queries and who to talk to about any concerns.

Various platforms are used to keep staff informed of updates including Inset days, regular newsletters, leaflets and staff noticeboards.

  • Fresh fruit is provided for staff (a healthier alternative to cakes and biscuits).
  • The school nurse is available to staff.
  • Local health providers are invited in to provide free health checks or screening.
  • The canteen offers healthy, balanced meals.
Benefits The school offers a cycle to work scheme, childcare vouchers and interest free loans for travel.
Socialising Regular social events include quiz nights, walks, book clubs and team sports for staff who wish to partake.

How a staff survey fits in

Your approach to staff wellbeing needs to be communicated and accessible to staff.

You also need insights from staff to inform your wellbeing approach. How will you know where to focus your efforts, unless you ask? Running a regular staff wellbeing survey is one way to embed that ongoing communication.

Developing the survey

Of course, the actual questions in your survey are a crucial part of getting this process right. Download this example survey and adapt for your context. Check out the tips in writing a wellbeing survey.

Acting on the results

Think carefully about how you develop and communicate new approaches to wellbeing. You don’t want staff to feel you’re simply paying lip service to genuine concerns.

Consider delegating the responsibility of developing areas to improve staff wellbeing to a motivated individual or committee. Such individuals will need time, support and, where possible, funding to help them start the process.

Measuring impact

Monitoring and measuring the success of any such initiatives is the only way to ensure sustainability. Make sure that staff feel they can feedback, suggest new ideas and get involved in developments.

This also helps staff feel that this is not simply a ‘top down’ initiative and that they can contribute, especially if appropriate suggestions can be actioned.

An annual staff wellbeing survey may be the best tool to achieve this and can also contribute useful quantitative data to support the effectiveness of new developments.

Other measures such as assessments of staff absence could be used to monitor effectiveness. Keep in mind there are limitations with using all kinds of data and triangulating with information from more than one source is ideal.

Want to hear more about creating a culture of whole school wellbeing? Have a listen to the Optimus wellbeing podcast.

Last Updated: 
21 Jan 2020