Are workload pressures out of control in the school business profession?

In our recent white paper, ‘Smarter procurement: a practical guide to improving value and efficiency’ which was created in partnership with EdExec magazine – we didn’t just uncover procurement issues with our research.

We chose to delve into the questions surrounding work habits within the school business management community. The results that came out from the survey of over 200 UK SBMs were unfortunately not surprising, given conversations and threads that we see on daily on Twitter. School business managers nationwide are in constant demand in their own workplaces and are clearly overworked given the breadth of their role within the school environment.

School business managers are constantly ‘on demand’

School business management seems to be a profession that has certainly shifted with the expectant nature of current times. This ‘on demand’ world in which we live, lends itself to being able to access information immediately, you’re able to simply pick up your phone and Google anything you’d like to know in seconds.

The school business manager within any school setting is no exception, with 34% of those surveyed in our research agreeing that ‘unscheduled interruptions’ heavily impact on their working day. Often, it’s mentioned that headteachers and teachers are able to do their job without interruption, with SBMs it seems unfair - as this isn’t the case for them.

Each time a problem occurs, no matter where it sits on the school’s disaster scale - the first port of call is quite often the school office. Whether it be a copier paper jam to a missing child, school business managers often like to work alongside their teams at the heart of the school, which means it can lead to interruption for all staff including the SBM.

An obvious imbalance in work and home life for SBMs

The most troubling stats within our white paper were born from asking about workload pressures and the loyalty given to the role by its professionals. 84% of respondents said that they regularly find themselves working after-school hours – which points to an obvious issue with workload for the majority of school offices nationwide.

A huge 84% said they are working after-hours at school and shockingly, a further 63% went on to say that they regularly work extra hours from home. A stat that, in any other workplace, wouldn’t feel at all acceptable.

Working after hours in the week is something which feels slightly more natural to Monday to Friday folk, but the weekend feels somewhat more sacred. To take the research one step further, we asked if any of our SBM respondents gave up some of their weekend to focus on tasks, to which 17% responded with a yes. Whilst 17% is much lower than those tackling their extra workload in the week, it is a still a huge percentage versus what should be - we think all would be in agreement, 0%

Easing of the workload

There is no magic bullet to solve this problem and it is certainly institutionalised. It takes firm conversations with your Senior Leadership Team and headteacher. Opening up discussions around your pressures can open new avenues but the first step is to open up about the problems you and your school office are facing.

You can read our full report, ‘Smarter procurement: a practical guide to improving value and efficiency’ here.