"An interesting finding, for example, is that higher teachers' job satisfaction and sense of community are associated with better pupils´results in mathematics. This is, on the whole, a good argument to make schools and society to take teachers' mental well-being seriously," comments Jiří Mudrák of SYRI and the Psychological Institute of the CAS. "The key factor that influences teachers' job satisfaction, according to our findings, is the quality of school leadership. Teacher satisfaction is therefore directly related to the managerial and leadership skills of principals of primary schools," he adds.
In particular, burnout syndrome poses a risk to teachers' occupational health. The results of the current survey have shown that by far the most significant source of burnout among teachers, and especially female teachers, is the conflict between work and family, i.e. the difficulty in reconciling the demands of both roles. This conflict arises because of work overload. "Measures to support the occupational health of male and female teachers should therefore focus on improving the conditions for reconciling work and family and greater support in coping with excessive work demands, such as administrative ones," comments Kateřina Zábrodská from SYRI and the Institute of Psychology institute of the CAS.
The survey, which involved 1,768 teachers, two-thirds of whom were women, also revealed some positive findings. "The good news is that female and male teachers at the second state of primary schools have their own personal resources, which they can apply effectively to better manage the demands of their jobs and reduce the risk of burnout. The main such resource is psychological capital, which can be thought of as analogous to financial capital, but in the realm of psychological resources. If we have enough of this capital, we can more easily cope with everyday challenges," explains Zábrodská.
Psychological capital refers to the sum of an individual's positive characteristics and resources and includes four key elements: optimism, confidence, hope and resilience. Individuals with higher psychological capital have confidence in their own ability to cope with challenges, are able to see situations and problems from a positive perspective, set more challenging goals and cope better with setbacks. "Our research has shown a significant positive effect of psychological capital on teachers' occupational health at several different levels. Psychological capital significantly reduces perceived work-family conflict and, consequently, reduces the risk of burnout. In parallel, it has a positive effect on work engagement and can be targeted and trained. Its development is therefore another way to strengthen the mental well-being of teachers," Zábrodská said, adding that quality of working conditions should not be limited to the issue of pay, but other areas should also be developed.
The current survey confirmed the well-known fact that teaching is a psychologically demanding profession and that deficiencies in the working environment are reflected in teachers' health in the form of excessive stress, burnout and reduced motivation, while these psychological conditions reduce teachers' teaching capacity. SYRI research also showed that most teachers are satisfied with their jobs, with teachers being the most satisfied with the use of their skills, while the least satisfied with their financial compensation.