A “poor mental health environment” has been cited by 44 per cent of financial services employees that have quit a job in the industry.
According to mental health advocacy group SuperFriend’s annual Indicators of a Thriving Workplace survey of 5,000 workers, 47 per cent of financial services professionals are experiencing “ongoing stress”, 9 per cent higher than the national average, with 44 per cent of respondents revealing that they have left a job in the industry due to a “poor mental health environment”.
“Not only is financial services a highly competitive industry, but the staff across the industry are often engaging with members and customers during some really tough moments in their lives, such as redundancy, illness, death or major life changes like retirement,” SuperFriend CEO Margo Lydon observed.
“All of these moments require staff to be empathetic, supportive as well as know the technical components of their job. This can create pressures and stress if staff are not trained or well supported.”
Further, 45 per cent of industry professionals said that they believe their employers don’t have enough time to improve the mental health environment.
However, Ms Lydon claimed that mental health awareness among employers is improving, with half of respondents noting that their employer is “making time to take action”, with 31 per cent describing their employer as “the best or one of the best” at creating a positive mental health environment.
“A number of organisations have made great improvements to their culture and workplace through a range of programs, by investing in mental health awareness and prevention initiatives including mental health training. It is clearly work in progress for the industry,” Ms Lydon continued.
The survey also found that over 66 per cent of industry employees said that they believe investment in workplace mental health and wellbeing would improve productivity, with 63 per cent stating that it would reduce absenteeism — both of which are 5 per cent above the national average.
Moreover, an additional 62 per cent of financial services employees said that they believe investment in workplace mental health and wellbeing would improve staff retention — 6 per cent higher than the national average.
“Employers stand to benefit from improving the mental health of their workplace, with bottom-line benefits including greater productivity, talent retention and long-term cost savings,” Ms Lydon added.
“Particularly with financial services businesses, there is a need for greater focus on preventative measures such as mental health policies, training for managers and staff, flexible work arrangements and recognition programs which can help to prevent issues from developing in the first place.”
Ms Lydon observed that employees in industries that work to develop positive mental health environments are more committed to their organisation’s goals, build better relationships with their colleagues and produce higher levels of output.
Ms Lydon concluded: “Those businesses already implementing best practice for their employees were found to actively encourage employees to identify ways to improve the workplace.
“More importantly, these business leaders are setting good examples and creating a culture that enables workers to be happy, healthy and productive. They are leaders who are really listening to the needs of their staff.”
Several players in the mortgage broking industry have been working to improve mental health in the profession, with Tracy Kearey, the director of Brisbane-based Home Loan Connexion, launching a mental health program to support her brokers.
Speaking to The Adviser last year, Ms Kearey said that she was launching the program to “give back” to the industry and provide support to her brokers.
Following an anxiety attack earlier in the year, Ms Kearey said that she wanted to make sure that anyone suffering from stress, anxiety or mental health issues had an appropriate outlet and support system.
Ms Kearey said: “We do a huge amount of work and are often under a huge amount of pressure, both in our professional lives and in our personal lives. While we all put a smile on our faces at work, it can be an effort just to get there. In my experience, if there is somebody available to speak to, it can just change your day and make it that little bit more manageable.”
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, or you’re worried about someone else, and feel urgent professional support is needed, contact your local doctor or one of the 24/7 crisis agencies below.
[Related: Working on wellbeing]
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