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Banks 'must manage health of employees'

01/05/14

It has always been a relatively stressful profession, albeit one that comes with a good deal of remuneration, but signs have emerged that the banking sector could be putting increased pressure on its employees.

Pete Rodgers, chairman of the City Mental Health Alliance, recently told the Financial Times that the intensification of work and the drop in job security following the economic crisis have both played a part in the overall mental health of staff.

The organisation was formed last year by about a dozen companies including the Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Lloyds Banking Group, which at least underlines that some of the biggest companies in the sector are taking notice of the issue.

Indeed, while there is no doubt that the long hours and hard work culture in place at many banking groups can be difficult, there is a case to be made that staff are being better supported than they are in many other industries.

Given that stress could cost the British economy £370 billion a year, or 4.5 per cent of the nation's GDP, in 2014, it is clear that it's not a problem simply confined to financial services.

Factors include the prevalence of mobile devices (allowing workers to be always-on, even when they leave the office) and the impact of personal financial insecurity on mental health.

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said: "We are seeing more stress-related illnesses at banks than we have before the crisis. Pre-crisis, people worked hard by choice to make more money but now it is by necessity to show presence so that they will not be made redundant."

According to the Financial Times, more attention is now being placed on mid-level workers, with previous scrutiny focused on the top and bottom tiers of organisations.

The benefits of dealing with this issue could be impressive. If banks take measures to improve the psychological wellbeing of their staff they could enjoy a productivity boost of £17.1 million, posited the Bank Workers Charity.

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