The Financial Sector has the worst mental wellbeing in the workplace. Is your employer doing enough to support?

In 2017 a study found that more than a third of absences in the financial services have been due to poor mental health.[1]

Working conditions and the environment in which someone works can have a detrimental impact on mental health, and equally, someone’s mental health can have a significant impact on their ability to perform well in their job. Research has shown that almost 15% of people in the workplace suffer from mental health problems with the financial sector being the most severely affected. Since 2013, 33.9% of absence days in this sector have been due to mental ill-health[2], [3] [4].  In an interview with HR Magazine, Kelly Feehan, Service Director at CABA, stressed that from her research 32% of employees wouldn’t tell anyone at work if they felt they were suffering from stress, anxiety, or depression. It is therefore more important than ever for businesses and managers to consider the well-being of their employees.

The 2018 absenteeism report further revealed that workplace absence costs the UK, as a whole, £18 billion, a figure that is set to rise to £21 billion in 2020 and £26 billion in 2030[5]. Rachel Suff CIPD emphasises that “if workers have a positive sense of wellbeing, they are more likely to feel engaged with their work and committed to the organisation. This means that they are more likely to exert discretionary effort” which can lead to higher performance levels.

Putting mental health on the Board’s agenda

The impact of stress has reached employees in the top positions of the banking industry. In 2011, Lloyds Banking Group Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio took two months off after suffering from sleep deprivation and exhaustion. He recently wrote an article for the Guardian about the need to end the workplace taboo around mental health. He highlighted that despite society making huge strides in recent years in its willingness to ‘acknowledge, confront and treat mental health’, the workplace remains an area where we continue to struggle with the impacts, and the costs are devastating. Antonio has made mental health at Lloyds a priority as a result of his own personal experience, and stated that it was clear the most important change needed was that of mindset: “We must move to a way of thinking and recognising that we all have mental health just as we have physical health.”[7]

Corporate mindset is beginning to change and there is an increased pressure for businesses to address the wellbeing of their employees. In-house activities such as lunch break yoga and meditation classes and counselling have become popular within companies who have the facilities and the budget to run such activities. An increase toward the use of digital platforms and smartphone applications for mental health also shows how self-help resources can be beneficial. The Wellbeing course by KNect365 Learning powered by Working Voices, part of a video-based communication skills courses for business, focuses on powerful coping strategies. Specifically, it teaches ways of managing stress and anger as well as rational strategies to help employees to deal effectively with pressure.  The reason why so many people turn to digital resources is due to their practicality in accessing content and in one’s own privacy. The course developer which provides communication courses for the like of Citi, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Lloyds, saw a consistent increase in the use of the Wellbeing course across all their clients base as more companies realise that employees’ wellbeing is at the core of a positive working environment, constructive contribution and performance.

Lloyds Banking Group is not the only company to address mental health and wellbeing. Mental Health at Work revealed that WHSmith have similarly began rolling out changes across their business. Alison Garbutt, the Head of Strategic Projects, understood the severity of mental health when one of her friends and colleagues at WHSmith took his own life. In a case-study she states, “I used to say that mental health was completely outside of my remit – but now I realise it is strategically important to the business”[8].

A research from the industry leading publication, Global Banking and Finance, found that 74% of interviewed think their employer could do more to support the physical and mental wellbeing of employees[9]. Is your company supporting its workforce’s wellbeing? Check out our Wellbeing course for FREE instant wellbeing tips or contact us for a guided DEMO of all the course content.