Managing bullying, stress management and well-being in the school workplace.

As the principal of a small rural school in New Zealand I have learnt many lessons about managing bullying, stress management and well-being in the school workplace for both staff and students. As we become more bound by Health and Safety legislation and develop our awareness of the mental health, safety and well-being of staff this has become increasingly important.

My personal story includes:

  • Developing a shared understanding of the definition of workplace bullying – including staff towards staff, management towards staff, staff towards management, parents towards staff etc.
  • Developing clear pathways for concerns and complaints
  • Coaching and guiding staff to have difficult conversations in a non-confrontational way, using the restorative framework
  • Learning when to intervene and when to coach and guide
  • Developing guidelines and expectations for onsite hours, safe working conditions, and recovery
  • Expecting staff to accept responsibility for how their actions affect others.

    (Adapted from Recharge 100, Andrew May)

A helpful tool is the use of Recovery Points. The Recovery Points system works on the basis that as professionals our brains are like the muscles and training of an elite athlete. Athletes require rest days to perform at their peak. As professionals we require the same rest for our brain. We should earn 100 recovery points per week to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The catch being, you can only count each activity once, even if you do it more than once! Your personalised grid should reflect your lifestyle and the things that recover and rejuvenate you. There are a number of mobile phone apps that track goals in the same way. Recovery Points keep the goal realistic. I can tell you from experience that there is such a thing as recovery overload! Keep it fresh by changing the items, sharing your tally with others, alternating indoor and outdoor recovery.

Importantly, have difficult conversations early, personally deal with only what is of your own concern, coach and direct staff members to deal with their “own stuff”, and seek guidance and professional assistance where needed, to keep your workplace safe and healthy.

For further information please feel free to email

Ms Debbie Holmes
Principal Galatea School


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