Introduction to financial services employee mental health
The UK economy is very much a services economy. Long gone are the days of ship building and coal mining driving our economy. And financial services is the lynchpin, offering a range of services such as banking, insurance and investment management. The industry is no stranger to high pressure work environments that can significantly affect the health of its employees though. That’s why we explore financial services employee mental health in this article.
Unsurprisingly then in the last year 80% of financial services workers have experienced at least one symptom of a mental health condition compared to the overall figure of 76% across all industries.
Furthermore when it comes to leaving positions due to health reasons, 69% of financial services workers have done so (at least partially) whereas the figure stands at 50% across all industries.
With these figures in mind, let’s explore five key ways you can address workplace mental health today.
Five Steps to Address Workplace Mental Health Issues
Leading financial service organisations have been working to address mental health impacts in their workplaces over the past several years. The most successful responses have included the following five steps:
- Visible engagement of senior business leaders
- Building effective communication strategies
- Investing in preventive mental health support
- Promoting work-life balance
- Providing training and support for managers
By implementing these five steps, financial service organisations can effectively address workplace mental health and create a supportive environment for their employees.
Let’s unpack each one in more detail.
Visible engagement of senior business leaders
Senior leaders should emphasise the importance of mental health through communication strategies. By reminding employees about resources and support they can help reduce the reluctance to seek help and encourage individuals to prioritise their well being.
By following these steps financial service organisations can create an environment for employees’ mental health to thrive while addressing workplace related challenges effectively.
Furthermore it is important for senior leaders to invest in measures for mental health support. Although employees in the banking and finance industry have access to health support tools, time constraints can often hinder their ability to seek help. Therefore organisations should prioritise offering support through workshops or programs that focus on resilience and coping strategies for stress and anxiety. Senior leaders can play a role in prioritising these programs and ensuring that employees have the time and resources to participate.
On top of this, and commonly overlooked, senior leaders should provide training and assistance to managers. Managers play a role in supporting the overall health of their teams. It is essential for organisations to provide training and resources that enable managers to identify and address health issues effectively thereby creating an inclusive work environment. Senior leaders can be instrumental in prioritising these resources and ensuring that managers are equipped with the tools they need to support their teams.
Building effective communication strategies
To promote health in the workplace it is imperative to build effective communication strategies. Clear and concise communication helps employees understand the significance of mental health, as well as the available resources for their well being. Here are some key strategies for developing communication, within the financial services sector;
- Clearly convey points using simple language.
- Use compassionate language when delivering messages.
- Ensure that you avoid using language or jargon that might confuse or isolate employees. Instead use straightforward terms that everyone can understand.
- Make sure to utilise communication channels, such as email, meetings and internal platforms to deliver information in a way that suits each employee’s preferences and needs.
- Remember the impact of communication, including body language and tone of voice. It greatly influences how messages are perceived. Ensure that your nonverbal cues align with the intended message.
- Maintain a supportive tone when discussing health topics. Avoid using dismissive language that could discourage employees from seeking help.
- Practice listening by hearing out employees’ concerns and feedback. Show them that their voices matter and create an environment of communication and trust.
- Choose the method of communication for specific messages. Consider whether an email, team meeting or one, on one conversation would be the way to convey information accurately.
By implementing these strategies financial services organisations can communicate the significance of mental health while supporting their employees well being.
Investing in preventive mental health support
Investing in health support plays a vital role in nurturing well being, within the financial services sector. By taking action to address mental health concerns, organisations can prevent the escalation of severe issues and prioritise overall employee wellness. Here are some important strategies to consider when investing in health support;
- Promote awareness and education; Provide employees with resources and training that empower them to understand health, identify signs and acquire effective coping mechanisms.
- Offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs); EAPs can deliver counselling and support services to employees and their families helping them navigate work related challenges that may impact their mental well being.
- Use a platform such as Gallantium, delivering a monthly support package that focuses on a new workplace mental health topic on the first day of each month. Ensuring that mental health support is always front of mind.
- Cultivate a balanced work environment; Foster a culture that values work life balance encourages communication and emphasises the importance of self care for maintaining good mental health.
- Facilitate access to health resources; Ensure employees have access to professionals, resources and tools that can bolster their well being.
- Encourage self care practices; Promote activities like exercise, healthy eating habits and stress management techniques, as elements of maintaining optimal mental and physical well being.
Promoting work-life balance
Promoting work life balance is an aspect of supporting the mental well being of financial services professionals. Given the demanding nature of their work environment, which often involves hours and high stress levels, it becomes crucial to implement strategies that facilitate equilibrium between their work and their personal lives. Here are some key approaches to promote work life balance;
- Offer working arrangements; Providing options such as work or flexible hours enables employees to effectively manage their responsibilities both at work and in their lives.
- Encourage breaks; Actively encouraging employees to take breaks throughout the day can significantly reduce stress levels while simultaneously boosting productivity.
- Provide wellness benefits; Offering wellness stipends that cover expenses related to gym memberships or mental health resources demonstrates a commitment towards prioritising employee well being.
- Support mental health days off; Allowing time off for focusing on mental health empowers employees to prioritise self care and effectively manage stress levels.
- Lead by example; Senior leaders play a role in setting the tone for work life balance by prioritising their well being and actively encouraging their teams to do the same.
Provide training and support for managers
To address the challenges faced by workers in the UKs financial services sector and promote mental health specific strategies are required. There are a number of approaches that can be taken.
For starters you can conduct mental health awareness training (MHAT) tailored to the financial services sector. This training equips managers with the knowledge and skills to identify signs of health issues, respond appropriately and help individuals access the support they need. It should specifically address challenges like high pressure work environments and long working hours.
A big one is to provide training on communication and listening specifically designed for the financial services sector. Managers should be trained on how to engage in conversations about health including using active listening techniques and offering appropriate support and resources. This training should consider the demands of financial services workers, such as balancing client expectations with employee well being.
Helping out your managers
To promote a healthy work environment, in the financial services sector it is essential to offer training and support to managers. They should receive training on compliance related to health including the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR). This training will help them understand their responsibilities regarding health and how to ensure compliance with regulations.
In addition managers need training on managing teams while also prioritising their mental well being. This includes learning communication strategies, setting boundaries and promoting a work life balance.
Furthermore it is crucial for managers to have access to health resources tailored to the financial services sector related to mental health conditions. This could involve providing access to health professionals, resources and tools like employee assistance programs (EAPs).
Championing mental health within the financial services sector in the UK requires a comprehensive approach that tackles the unique challenges faced by workers in this industry, currently said challenges are ultimately leading to poor mental health. It is crucial to involve business leaders and establish effective communication methods, invest in preventive mental health support, promote a healthy work life balance and provide managers with training and assistance.
By implementing these strategies financial services organisations can support mental health with an inclusive work environment that prioritises the well being of their employees and shows the employer has invested in workplace mental health expertise. This approach can result in increased productivity, employee satisfaction and overall business prosperity. And all that by simply considering the mental and physical health of your people proactively, making sure to develop sustainable mental health plans, and where needed addressing mental health issues head on.