Banking is failing the mental stress test

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While widely recognised for some time that financial problems unavoidably affect mental health, alarming statistics in recent years reveal that 67% of senior-level decision makers at financial institutions say they would quit their jobs if stress levels did not improve. Metlife research also concluded that two out of five banking executives described their job as “Extremely Stressful”. Targets can seem excessive, workloads endless, and support can be hard to come by as HR teams are needing to do more with less. The crisis is evident when we observe that suicide mortality rates per 100,000 of population in London (where the Square Mile financial district is located) have consistently outnumbered any other London borough since 2009.

Stigma

One study shows that employees suffering from mental health issues feel they are denied opportunities for training, promotion or transfer. There is still a stigma that comes with admitting to mental health problems; colleagues may not know how to respond, while employers may fear a loss of control or understanding. Therefore the average banker going through problems may feel isolated, unequipped, and unable to voice their concerns out loud.

Financial Costs

It’ll also cost the industry financially. According to WHO, approximately $1 trillion USD is lost every year due to inefficiency of employees who work under extreme mental duress. Little progress has been made to address the issue in past years due to its sensitive nature, and overall lack of understanding on the subject. UNI Finance also found that 80% of the world’s 26 banking and finance unions cited deteriorating health as a major problem for members, increasing every year.

It’s not for want of trying

What makes the situation even more dire is that 73% of employees in the financial services are actually looking for better physical and mental wellbeing support within the workplace. This shows a clear desire for treatment and prevention of mental illness at work. Furthermore, an overwhelming 74% say they look to their employers and leaders for support - not the NHS, or family backup, or the government. They seek support from their leaders.   

The beginning of a new era

Leaders are now understanding that young and even experienced bankers require someone in their corner, and that that they themselves do not have the time or resources to be available to every employee. This is why one promising solution has been offering in-house mental health support to employees who are struggling, like when a Lloyds Bank manager reached out and was given guidance by managers and colleagues.

Other places of work are keen to implement mentoring programs which would enable employees to be paired up with supportive and experienced professionals. But the modern workplace is seeing the rise of digital solutions as well, with eagle-eyed leaders noticing that traditional support models can lack:  

  • Privacy and anonymity

  • Access to the right support for every possible situation

  • Ability to scale over a large workforce

Digital solutions are slowly turning the tide as they offer a variety of benefits on top of resolving these challenges. This is why we developed Rungway. Rungway is easy to access and;

  • Offers strict anonymity, protecting anyone who may want to ask a question or seek advice

  • Offers a network of thousands of like-minded professionals, with no limit to the range of advice one can benefit from

  • Gives employees access to the wisdom of peers and leaders right across their company

  • Women and minority communities have a safe platform to share their unique experiences and discuss the issues most pressing to their demographic.

Rungway works in real-time and is capable of scaling across companies and communities of any size, a feature that is otherwise unresolvable by traditional methods.

While industry-wide shifts may still be in the distance, they will not be far and they will be increasingly incorporated in the growing digital landscape. Mental health remains a crisis in the UK banking and financial sector, but whether a brand pulls through or slowly drowns will boil down to how their leaders respond.

 
Julie Chakraverty