• Sidekick

A Look Into the Current State of Wellbeing in Education

Breaking down the 4 dimensions of wellbeing

Sidekick Co-Founder, Bonny van Rest, and VP, Head of Strategy, Ryan Hughes from Humanity travelled to Montreal to host an interactive session on Wellbeing at Work with the Heads and Chairs of CAIS – the Canadian Association of Independent Schools. The three-part session, Teaching for the Future World Through Employee Wellbeing, focused on taking a closer look at the data on the wellbeing of Canadians working in the education sector. This data was collected and analyzed as part of the Wellbeing at Work Report – a study on the wellbeing of Canadians in the workplace - created by Sidekick and Humanity. The duo worked with CAIS Heads and Chairs to identify and begin to address some of the key challenges their schools and staff have been experiencing in this area of wellbeing.


Keep reading to learn more about the wellbeing of educational professionals in Canada.


Borrowing from Humanity’s proprietary Wellbeing FrameworkTM, we look at the Four Dimensions of Wellbeing amongst employees in the education sector, compared to the total Canadian working population.


A quick recap of the Four Dimensions of Wellbeing can be found below.

Narrowing in on the Education Sector, we see that work mostly fulfills functional and social needs. However, an important trend to note is that the Education Sector scored higher than the Canadian Total on all dimensions of wellbeing. Why might this be?



1. A good work life balance is the main driver of higher perceived Functional Wellbeing in Education

The higher scores on functional wellbeing, can largely be explained by two indicators of work-balance; My work provides me with the right level of income for what I want from life; and my work doesn’t get in the way of living my life. On both accounts, the Education Sector scores slightly higher than the national average.


However, in our conversations with CAIS Heads and Chairs, there was a general sense that in their independent schools the work-life balance has become more challenging post-pandemic, due to the return to in-person school. As a result, the return of extra-curricular activities adding to the workload teachers’ experience, so where it used to be a strength it may now become a challenge for the sector.

In addition, when looking at income as an indicator of Functional Wellbeing, deeper insights appear, and disparity is obvious. When it comes to income, Women, Diverse and Racialized education professionals score lower in wellbeing scores compared to their counterparts:

  • While Woman nearly composes 2/3 of the Education sector, their Wellbeing score for income is only 2/3 of Men’s (36%).

  • Diverse employees (13%) score much lower than non-diverse employees (40%).

  • Racialized education professionals score the lowest among all demographic segments with a Wellbeing score of 9%, far below their non-racialized colleagues of 31%.


Interestingly, though the Education Sector scores higher than average on the dimension of functional wellbeing, one third of educational professionals do not agree that their benefits and perks from work are useful to them. This raises the question of what benefits are currently being provided, and whether these are actually the ones that employees value most.


2. Educational professionals take pride in the impact they make through their work

The Education Sector scored 4% higher than the Canadian Total of 23% when looking at Esteem Wellbeing. This is largely due to the strong performance of having opportunities to learn and grow at work in the past year, Growth and learning opportunities contribute to how employees feel about themselves and how an employee defines themselves. A second driver of Esteem wellbeing in Education, is the pride employees feel for the work they do. Based on our conversations with heads and chairs, this is likely to come from the direct impact teachers feel they have on younger generations.

While they take pride in their work, only 55% of Canadians working in education feel that they are important to the success of their organization. How can employers in the Education Sector combat these seemingly conflicting feelings?


One of the ways in which an employee feels valued at work is through recognition from their superiors. As depicted in the graph below, the Education Sector scores low on recognition, with a 5% difference against the national average. In particular, Woman, 50-64 in age and Non-managers in Education fall behind in getting recognized.


When it comes to consistent recognition and appreciation of employees, there is certainly room for improvement to be made by employers, managers, as well as parents to teachers and teaching staff.

3. Colleagues prefer to work collaboratively in teams in the education sector

At work, Social Wellbeing is about your job providing a sense of community. Having a strong sense of Social Wellbeing allows people to feel connected to something beyond themselves. The Education Sector over indexes with 9% compared to the Canadian Total on the dimension of social wellbeing. This is primarily driven by a stronger desire to work as part of a team instead of working alone.

Although the Education Sector scores higher than the Canadian Total in Social Wellbeing, a closer look at the question on conversations around development and progress, is imperative. We see that only 36% of Canadian education professionals had someone at work talk to them about their progress in the last six months. In fact, across all subsegments in the Education Sector, we are seeing low scores in having developmental chats. This is the most prominent among Women, 25–34-year-old, and non-managers. While teachers and educators are growing and nurturing Canada’s next generation, who is helping them grow?


4. Highly impactful jobs are a key to talent retention in the human-centric era

The Education Sector over indexing in comparison to the Canadian total has been a trend throughout this analysis – and Transformative Wellbeing is no different!

When Canadians rank how impactful their work is, the Education Sector scores 4.5 times higher than the Canadian Total. Canadian education professionals clearly see their work as meaningful and impactful. Based on the Wellbeing Framework, we know that when work is impactful – when transformative wellbeing is high – jobs change the way we see the world and interact with it. For Canadian educational professionals, work is highly transformative. This is a key strength to have in this human era and can be used to attract and retain talent.


Wrapping it Up

Pulling from the Wellbeing at Work Report, the data that appeared within the education space shines a light on the overall impact the industry has on employees. Overall, educational professionals derive more wellbeing from their work compared to their counterparts in other industries. However, when we look further into the data and through extensive discussion with CAIS Heads and Chairs, we also see some areas of improvement within subsegments of education.

Knowing this, here are some of the questions we think leaders within the education sector should ask themselves:

  • What does employee wellbeing look like in my own organization, what are the key dimensions that my employees are looking to see fulfilled through work, and how does that vary from person to person?

  • How can employee wellbeing in an environment primarily driven by student schedules be personalized and customized around the teachers’ talent?

  • Can higher levels of autonomy and flexibility in roles, so that individuals have an opportunity to focus on the things they love doing and are great at, contribute to higher levels of wellbeing?

  • How can continuous feedback, and conversations around growth and development contribute to a culture where individuals feel recognized and valued for their individual contributions and talents? How can you embed this into your culture and day-to-day habits.

  • How can we, in a time where people are increasingly looking for work that allows them to have a larger impact on society, use the transformative power of education, to attract, retain and engage top talent.

Want to do a deep dive into employee engagement in your own school or workplace? Reach out.