Almost all (95%) senior decision-makers from financial institutions and investment banks are expected to be always available for work, according to research from MetLife.
They were found to work on average 23 weekends a year, with half (50%) saying weekends have been disturbed by work at least 25 times in the past year.
However, just one in seven (14%) said action has been taken when they'd complained about the pressure. Additionally, just 23% of employees felt able to discuss stress issues with their managers. By contrast 65% said they feel able to discuss the stress they are under with colleagues.
Tom Gaynor, employee benefits director at MetLife UK, said that while investment bankers often pride themselves on working long hours there needs to be a balance.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Shakil Butt, HR and organisational development director for IR at charity Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), said he believes that highly pressurised sectors such as the banking and financial industry could benefit from bringing mental health into the open so where it exists it can be tackled proactively. Stress is also high in the charity sector, where 80% of the workforce say they have suffered stress in their current role.
Butt explained that to mitigate the toll on staff of daily pressure and often working late evenings and weekends, IRW has introduced a stress clinic. It is run by the HR services manager – a qualified therapist – who meets with staff members on-site in confidence.
“Staff were going home tired and coming back the next day tired, and many lost annual leave for fear of the workload piling up,” Butt told HR magazine. “The uptake of the stress clinic surprised us, with many coming forward leading us to train a further 16 staff members, including managers, on mental health awareness so they can spot the signs and signpost staff to professionals for help.
“With mental health being discussed more openly across the world of work, this is one taboo that is slowly being dragged into the light and addressed finally.”