The health at work inquiry conducted in 2014 and 2015 led to 7 country reports and one comparative global report being produced. Distribution of the results began in 2015 with an initial presentation at the AEIP annual conference in Venice, Italy.
The European Association of Paritarian Institutions met in Venice on 12 November. The discussion was an opportunity to tackle occupational and mental health issues. The Education and Solidarity Network presented both itself as an organisation and the work it has carried out in terms of occupational health for education professionals.
At the Triennial World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in 2014, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder emphasised the vital need for reliable data.: ”We live in the Information Age where policy-makers have access to data on most issues. But in relation to occupational safety and health we lack data to design and implement evidence-based policies and programmes. That’s a failure — also of political will”.
It is in this context that the ESN launched an international inquiry into the occupational health of education professionals, with its member organisations in France, the United States, Canada, Australia and Mexico.
The questionnaire, consisting of 38 questions taken from recognised inquiries carried out by the WHO and the OECD, was available online and in paper format. It was inspired by the broad view of health expressed by the WHO in the preamble to its Constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Our inquiry was unique due to its double dimension: it contained descriptive statistics, but was also interspersed with statistical data in order to determine which factors influence education professionals’ satisfaction in terms of health and quality of life.
We collected more than 3000 responses from all over the world, and produced 7 country reports as well as one comparative global report. Here are some of the results:
Level of satisfaction
● Education sector workers are generally satisfied with their health and quality of life
○ Workers are more satisfied in the United States and Australia than they are in France and Canada
● Young people are less satisfied than the older generations in terms of access to healthcare
● Education sector workers are very satisfied with their relations with their students (81% satisfied) and with their colleagues (75%)
○ This in turn improves their satisfaction in terms of health, and reduces their negative sentiments
● However, they are less satisfied with their relations with students’ parents (60% satisfied) and with their managers (51%)
● In terms of support from their employer, only 39% of respondents are satisfied. This has the effect of increasing negative sentiments.
Factors impacting satisfaction with health and quality of life
● The key determining factor affecting health and quality of life is work-life balance
● Across all countries, getting this factor right decreased the negative sentiments which affect the ability to work
● The problem is that satisfaction in terms of work-life balance is relatively low in all countries, the lowest being Canada with only 27% satisfied. In France, 42% are satisfied.
Other factors which influence satisfaction in terms of health and quality of life are, in order of importance:
● Money (only 46% are satisfied with their salary)
● Relations with colleagues and students
● Access to healthcare
The main factors decreasing the negative sentiments that affect ability to work are, in order of importance:
● work-life balance
● relations with colleagues and students
● support from the employer and a good relationship with managers
● union support
ESN members decided to carry out more of these kinds of inquiries, with more respondents in each country, more young people included in the sample, and more countries to compare. A focus on mental health and psycho-social risks is also planned. These surveys should enable us to launch advocacy campaigns and concrete programmes aimed at improving health in the education sector, and to strengthen the links between unions and education mutual societies.