The number of stress-related absences in financial services in the last year rose to the highest level since the financial crisis in 2008, says Fox & Partners, the employment and partnership law specialists.
The average number of working days lost per worker each year in financial services due to stress increased to 0.54 days between 2016/17 and 2018/19, up 8% from 0.5 between 2013/14 and 2015/16.
Stress-related absences are having a significant impact on employers, with poor mental health costing financial services firms an estimated £3,245 per employee in lost revenues last year.
Fox & Partners says the historical rise is partly driven by high levels of stress in the financial services industry due to heavy workloads, the emotional load of high pressure decision-making and working with challenging people. An “always on” culture and changes to working patterns, such as the wider use of smart phones, has meant many employees are increasingly struggling to disconnect from work.
Fox & Partners adds that intensifying regulatory scrutiny has further contributed to rising stress levels for some individuals in financial services. The recent extension of the Senior Managers’ Regime to all financial services firms has increased the number of senior individuals that could face severe penalties for failures at their firms.
The COVID-19 situation, which has introduced massive uncertainty and is causing tremendous anxiety across the working population, is very likely to intensify stress, particularly as resource becomes increasingly stretched. Those employers who do not take wellbeing seriously – ensuring senior management spot and support mental health issues – face legal risks under health and safety legislation and personal injury law, as well as potential discrimination claims if employees with mental health issues are subjected to detriments.
Ivor Adair, Partner at Fox & Partners, says: “Rising stress levels amongst City workers suggests the industry is still struggling to tackle its intense working culture.”