Demanding bosses and increased work pressures are turning up the pressure and stress levels for City workers with staff expected to be always available, new research* from MetLife shows.
Its study among senior decision makers from financial institutions and investment banks found 95% say they are expected to be always available for work with weekends seen as a continuation of the normal working week. They work on average 23 weekends a year, with 50% of executives saying weekends have been disturbed by work at least 25 times in the past year.
Complaining about stress makes no difference – just one in seven (14%) of those questioned say bosses have taken action when they have complained about pressure at work.
The failure by management to address stress in the City runs counter to the efforts by banks to officially help staff – 81% say new employees are given information on the pressures involved and the resilience needed for their role.
But that fails to translate to individual managers – just 23% of employees feel able to discuss stress issues with their managers. By contrast 65% feel able to discuss the stress they are under with colleagues.
Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director at MetLife UK said:
“Investment bankers often pride themselves on working long hours but there needs to be a balance and managers need to recognise the impact on individuals.
“What should never be acceptable under any circumstances is the fear of admitting to stress or mental health issues simply because of perceived career damage.
“If the management style of these organisations is demanding, they should provide provisions to tackle mental health issues and should encourage staff to admit when there is a problem. By doing so, not only will they show a duty of care to their staff, their bottom line will also more than likely improve thanks to a committed and supportive workforce.”
The main reasons for working during the weekends were given as having to catch up on work that wasn’t completed during the week, with 37% of executives admitting they struggle to switch off at weekends. Half of all executives admit their job has got “more stressful” over the last year, with two out of five (40%) saying their job is extremely stressful and 67% considering quitting their jobs in the next year if stress levels do not improve.
MetLife is partnering with Maudsley Learning, whose mission is to reduce stigma relating to mental health in the workplace, as part of its commitment to help employers tackle the challenges of stress and mental health. Throughout 2016 MetLife has campaigned to highlight the need to increase awareness of the benefits of organisational resilience and training.
It offers its own ProActive Protection Group Income Protection policy which takes a proactive approach to preventing absences and helping employees who are unwell to return to work. It supports in helping to identify and to understand employee health issues before they become serious problems and provide support to enable employees to return to work more quickly.
Employees can access a range of health and wellbeing information and other support services via MetLife’s Wellbeing Hub and use the Employee Health Gateway to calculate their own ‘Health Age’ and receive personalised health and wellness information. There is also a comprehensive 24×7 employee assistance programme providing practical life management support, guidance on health issues and counselling services, including if necessary access to five face – to- face counselling sessions.