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Mental health concerns rise as employees are financial squeezed

Employers in financial services should act to retain talent in the industry as new findings from MHFA England highlight the impact of poor mental health. 83% of finance sector employees have considered changing jobs due to the impact of work on their mental health, with nearly half of those taking the plunge. Despite progress on tackling the stigma over recent years, more organisations must act to normalise conversations around mental health, as one in four employees said they are not comfortable discussing it with their manager. One in four also cited a lack of managerial support and one in five pointed to company culture as key factors negatively affecting their mental health.

Employers in financial services should act to retain talent in the industry as new findings from MHFA England highlight the impact of poor mental health. 83% of finance sector employees have considered changing jobs due to the impact of work on their mental health, with nearly half of those taking the plunge.

What’s more, the new data from 1,000 people working in financial services shows employees feel they need more support, with 60% stating their employer could do more on workplace mental health and wellbeing.

Despite progress on tackling the stigma over recent years, more organisations must act to normalise conversations around mental health, as one in four employees said they are not comfortable discussing it with their manager. One in four also cited a lack of managerial support and one in five pointed to company culture as key factors negatively affecting their mental health.

Adding to these pressures is the current economic uncertainty, with half of finance employees stating the cost-of-living is the biggest threat to their mental health over the next six months.

MHFA England is encouraging financial services employers to review their approach to mental health and wellbeing so both their people and their business can thrive. It believes a whole organisation approach is required and managers need to be at the heart of any change to create inclusive working environments where everyone feels psychologically safe to perform at their best.

One way that organisations can better support their teams is to consider offering improved flexibility, with 41% of financial services employees saying flexible working hours would improve their mental health. Over a third (35%) also feel a choice over when and where they work, at home or in the office, would help.

Providing consultancy and workplace mental health expertise to over 20,000 organisations, including many in the finance sector, MHFA England has a wealth of experience in supporting organisations to develop sustainable mental health and wellbeing strategies, designed to support performance and productivity.

Giving managers the time, tools and training to do their job well has the potential to transform workplace culture and a third of those surveyed agreed that tailored training for employees or managers would better support mental health at work.

Jenn Barnett, Head of ESG and EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said:

“Having a mentally healthy workforce isn’t an optional extra, it’s vital for our talent to be able to perform at their best.  Wellbeing, resilience and managing the risk of burnout are key priority for our organisation and for the wider professional and financial services sectors. If we care for our brain in the same way as we care for our physical bodies, it supports us to be more resilient to pressure and change, improves our ability to solve complex problems and enables sustainable, healthy performance in our people.

“At Grant Thornton, the focus on supporting our people’s wellbeing has created a more open, non-judgmental and supportive culture. As a result of highlighting mental health issues and signposting support, our people know who and where they can go to for help if they are in a crisis and are encouraged to look after their own health and avoid the risk of burnout.”

Vicki Cockman, Workplace Lead at Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, said:  “Our research shows the clear link between mental health and talent retention. Employers should act now to identify their organisation’s needs and put the right provision in place to create a healthy culture for staff. Acting early will help to prevent a deepening talent crisis.

“Managers have a clear role to play. They are one of the most influential factors on team culture, people’s wellbeing and business performance. Managers need to feel confident and empowered to drive positive wellbeing across their teams. It is time to give them the training and support they need.

“The cost of living crisis and the threat of recession will put a further strain on employee mental health and may put a further squeeze on the sector’s talent pool. A focus on people’s mental health and wellbeing is more important than ever if businesses are to support their people, boost productivity and maintain their bottom line.”

Julie Carruthers, Managing Director, Membership & Strategic Partnerships at UK Finance said: “Mental wellbeing is a key issue and something UK Finance and the wider banking and finance sector takes very seriously. Mental Health First Aid England does fantastic work in this area and has set out some important ideas for improving employees’ mental health through greater managerial support and flexibility.

“This is something that isn’t always easy to talk about in the workplace and ensuring more people feel comfortable asking for help and speaking about this issue will really benefit those who are struggling.”

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