Are financial services employees more stressed than ever?

Specialist City partnership and employment lawyers, Fox & Partners has analysed statistics from the Health & Safety Executive, and discovered that the number of stress related absences in the financial services sector has risen by 31%, compared to the last set of data, which was for 2007 to 2010.

Given that this earlier period includes the time running up to and covering the financial crisis in 2008, this is a worrying trend for HR professionals in the industry. So why would we be seeing an increase in recent years?

Increasing pressure on people

The problems that led to the financial crisis certainly needed to be resolved. And so there has been an increase in regulation, in reporting and in added protections for customers,  within financial firms of all sizes. For some, that has meant significant restructuring which often results in job losses, movement or re-aligning of roles and competition for places.

In addition, the over-riding culture of the financial services industry has not changed. It remains fast-paced, highly competitive and an immensely pressured environment. Workers are expected to work hard, stay late and produce outstanding results on a long-term basis.

And, whilst there has certainly been a move towards greater mentoring of staff and a better understanding of the importance of good mental health in the workplace, the very nature of the sector means that employees face significant pressure to perform at all times.

Uncertain times

Added to the regulatory reaction to the original financial crisis is ongoing uncertainty about the role of financial services companies in the city. With some banks and funds deciding to move operations elsewhere – or at least considering whether they need to do so – employees are more unsure about their future than they were between 2007 and 2010. Add to that a blame culture and a layer of top management whose experience is mostly in pre-financial-crisis management and it’s easy to see why employers lower down these organisations are suffering.

How to combat stress-related absenteeism

Financial services organisations need to build positive, inclusive cultures. By looking at the way they incentivise and manage their employees, and by training team leaders and all levels of management in how to spot the early signs of stress, they can intervene at an earlier stage, offering targeted support that helps the individual to identify and manage their stresses or anxieties. This will reduce the level of stress-related absenteeism and improve employee productivity and job satisfaction.

Increasingly, employees are searching out employers who have a clear policy on mental health in the workplace and who follow through on their promises. If your organisation is experiencing significant absenteeism because of stress, and you want to improve your numbers – and your overall productivity – contact us today.

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