The financial services sector has the highest percentage of employee absences due to mental ill health, according to research from HR consultancy AdviserPlus.
Analysis of AdviserPlus’ records of more than a quarter of a million employees shows that since 2013 33.9% of absence days in the financial services sector have been due to mental ill health. This compares to 24% of absence days in the retail sector and 22% in utilities.
Chris Clarke, chief executive at AdviserPlus, warned of the toll current events are having on financial services staff. “Our data suggests that the financial crisis and increased personal responsibility under new regulations are taking their toll on those working in financial services,” he said. “The percentage of absences in the sector due to mental ill health has increased year on year.
“It’s crucial that financial sector businesses measure the level of workplace absences due to mental ill health within their organisation, and have plans in place to respond,” he added. “Line managers need to be properly trained, to enable them to spot the early signs that someone may be suffering from mental ill health, so that they are able to provide help and support before the illness becomes more serious.”
Kelly Feehan, service director at CABA, a charity that supports chartered accountants' wellbeing, told HR magazine that many employees are afraid to talk to their manager about their mental health. “We know from our own research that 32% of employees wouldn’t tell anyone at work if they felt they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression,” she said. “Therefore – to help tackle this ‘taboo’ topic – businesses need to have confidence about openly discussing mental ill health, along with the signs or symptoms around it. By familiarising their workforce with the topic employees will be more aware and more able to assess.”
She added that an improved work/life balance could help. “Work/life balance is strongly influenced by company culture,” she said. “In a highly pressured environment with strict deadlines and targets, it wouldn’t be surprising if employees were tempted to stay late and get more done, compromising their life outside work.
“Businesses need to outline that being a team player is more important than working long hours and encouraging senior employees to leave on time allows junior employees to follow suit.”