In the customer success team here at Edurio, we care about ensuring our clients get the most out of participating in a survey with us and can use our information to improve staff/pupil wellbeing, parental engagement or trust-staff relationships.
After schools and trusts take part in a survey with us, we check in with them to help them understand their results. We often hear the following questions during this call: 'What should we do now?' or 'What are others doing?' It's great to hear these questions as it shows schools and trusts are actively using their surveys as part of broader strategic improvement. However, believe it or not, it is often the people who ask us these questions who are in the best position to answer them. After all, school and trust leaders are the experts in making these decisions. At Edurio, we help our customers understand the data, in context, in order to make future decisions; yet the real work often begins post-survey.
With this in mind, we introduced Edurio roundtables to help facilitate post-survey conversations between school and trust leaders who have taken part in similar surveys. Events such as this help provide collaborative spaces among peers to share practical insights, what they learnt from taking part, and future ambitions and school improvement plans.
Our most recent roundtable centred on trust perception among staff, a topic that emerged during our Staff Experience and Wellbeing Survey, a survey that focuses on staff workload, perceptions of leadership dynamics, and career development, among other key factors. Some of our attendees had just done their first survey, while others had years of historical data to monitor their progress. Despite this variety, all recognised the importance of continuously using surveys to complement people strategies, consistently improve staff wellbeing, and, as highlighted by the pandemic, be swift in taking actions to support their employees emotionally and professionally. This post will look at the discussions which occurred during this roundtable between leaders of six different trusts, comprised of HR/School improvement leads, and executives around the notion of improving trust-staff relationships.
Taking Actions Post-Survey
One attendee shared that their biggest fear was not to act on staff feedback: "Just doing a survey and putting it on a shelf somewhere is not good enough." For them, identifying both low-hanging fruit and more extensive initiatives proved to be a successful strategy. Following the survey, they introduced a trust-wide employee assistance programme and communicated about that consistently in staff newsletters, which resulted in a more considerable uptake and more appreciation for trust efforts.
Another attendee reflected that their survey results had decreased during the pandemic as schools focused on their communities more and missed out on the collaboration across the trust. As a result, they have revamped their curriculum strategy to embed a collaborative approach to design and delivery. All attendees agreed that doing something with results and sharing progress with staff through a "You said - We did" summary presentation was a great way of assuring staff of commitment to improvement efforts across the trust.
Using Communication to Build Closer Relationships
During the roundtable, we heard that there was evidence of staff feeling like their trust was not doing enough amongst their survey responses. When discussing this evidence, it emerged that perhaps their teams' responses reflected less on the work trust leaders are doing but rather on what trusts are doing to make staff aware of how they're working to support their staff. Data from our Trusting in Trusts Report supports this since just 44% of over 10,000 respondents felt that the trust leadership actively works to address their needs, and fewer still - a mere 23% - felt it is easy to communicate their concerns back to the trust.
However, the pandemic also proved to be an opportunity for some. In particular, one respondent shared that between 2020 and 2021, their trust perception results had increased by 4% in large part thanks to their work during the pandemic when their team was far more visible in daily support and crisis management. This reflection echoed the national data where results went up 6%, suggesting that just by increasing trust visibility, trust perception can improve as well.
Other attendees agreed on this difficulty in raising awareness of central trust teams' activities and shared other initiatives on what they've done, including:
- Online trust-wide INSET days
- Consistently reminding staff members of the trust's benefits and opportunities, working with the belief that it takes 3 times and 3 different channels for a message to stick!
- Physically moving parts of trust teams to school-based offices to be closer to the community they serve
We're always looking for feedback at Edurio, and we're always interested to see what trusts are doing to build a better future. So, what is your trust doing to develop a better trust-staff relationship?
Aligning as a Community of Schools within a Trust
Perhaps the most contentious question that someone asked was: "Does trust perception among staff even matter if we care about pupil outcomes?" which is a fair question to ask. Engaging staff with their employer and empowering them to bring their best selves to work will naturally trickle down to pupil outcomes. One attendee reflected that after years of financial struggles within the trust, they did a rebranding exercise to change the internal narrative across the trust and make staff feel proud of their workplace. "It was suddenly not all bad news," This initiative has contributed to consistently improving trust perception among staff members over the years.
This data demonstrates how much branding matters for leadership teams who wish to work on their trust-staff relationships. Working on this alignment presents an opportunity for trust perception as a whole benefitting recruitment and retention efforts.