Making mental health support a priority in financial services

The pandemic has had a big impact on mental health issues in the financial services, partly due to a change in working practices — including more isolation and remote settings — along with an uncertain economic climate.

The financial service industry has always been known as a high-pressure working environment, but when the pandemic resulted in global financial disruption –employees were set with the task of dealing with this for themselves, as well as their clients. This has made it hard for them to prioritise their own mental and physical health.

At KFS Recruitment, we have seen first-hand how mental health issues have disrupted financial services since the pandemic, and saw many people leave the industry completely. This has led to candidate shortages and a smaller pool to choose from, making it all the more important to protect the talent you already have.

We strongly believe that the stigma around mental health — especially within the financial market — is being erased, but more work needs to be done.

As a company, we think it starts with the freedom to speak up and admit your challenges in a judgment-free zone. This is essential, as it allows businesses to ascertain what their workers need. They can then equip their employees with the tools they require to nurture their mental health — this could be anything, from monthly massages to free therapy sessions. When looking for roles, candidates are prioritising benefit packages that include wellbeing incentives more than ever, which is testament to the fact that people see their mental health and wellbeing as valuable.

KFS Recruitment is running its own employee mental health initiatives this month, including mindfulness workshops, self-care tips and encouraging a good work-life balance. We have always held a strong wellbeing culture at KFS and this allows us to understand the needs of our clients and candidates on a deeper level.

Helping your employees

According to the AON paper Long Hours and Burnout, only 28% of financial organisations feel positive about their manager’s ability to address mental health needs, and only 33% have measurable data linked to their employee’s wellbeing.

Yet there is a direct relationship between safeguarding our employee’s mental health and productivity, so it should be a priority.

There is a need for employers to take responsibility for the mental and emotional wellbeing of their workforce, and open communication is key, as this gives people the confidence to be honest when they require support.

Another important aspect is ensuring that work-life balance is maintained. New remote and hybrid working patterns have blurred the lines between where work ends and home begins, leading to high levels of stress and burnout. As an employer, it can be easy to gloss over this until it begins to impact your company financially in sickness costs. However, simple measures to ensure people log off completely can mitigate these issues at the source. Restricting out-of-hours access to work systems and allowing flexible hours can remove the option to overwork.

In conclusion, employers must encourage and maintain a strong positive mental health culture by talking to their workforce and taking on feedback. Employees will feel connected and believe their contribution matters, helping them to see themselves as a priority too. Ultimately, employees need to be nurtured in order for you to maintain a resilient workforce.

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