What a snapshot tells us about employee wellbeing in banks
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What a snapshot tells us about employee wellbeing in banks

The state of employee wellbeing is never static, it’s subject to influences from events large and small in the workplace and in the wider world.

The latest Bank on Your People survey, which investigates the state of workplace wellbeing in the financial sector, was released this summer and its findings are very interesting. Now in its third year, it’s the only survey of its kind in the industry and it sheds new light on the factors affecting the wellbeing of bank workers. What I find fascinating about the survey is that it represents a snapshot of wellbeing in banks at a particular moment in time. And because employee wellness fluctuates, each survey reveals new and interesting patterns.

What the picture shows about employee health

The kinds of pressures affecting bank workers at home and at work have shifted since the last survey conducted in 2013. Then, in a world still profoundly affected by the financial crash, job insecurity was a significant workplace concern. Now, given that we’re in the early stages of economic recovery and businesses everywhere feel more optimistic about the future, anxieties about job security have receded.

In the latest survey, the main sources of job-related pressure are factors associated with the nature of the work itself; such as lack of control, shortage of time, and lack of involvement in decision making. This is helpful to know as these are all issues that any business interested in corporate wellbeing has the capacity to address.

However, among many valuable insights arising from the study, what interests me most is that the latest report reinforces a key finding from previous surveys.

This is that non-work pressures, the problems and challenges that employees face in their personal lives, (such as relationship breakdown, debt and bereavement), have a significant and negative impact on workplace wellbeing.

And there are consequences that flow from that. The links between wellbeing and key organisational indicators such as performance, productivity and engagement are now well recognised. So it’s not surprising that when these problems persist, the resulting reduction in levels of wellbeing impact negatively on organisational performance.

When employees’ struggles become your struggles

Also changed this time round are the non-work pressures affecting bank workers. Financial concerns of one kind or another dominate. Once more this makes sense, as during the period covered by the survey incomes had still not recovered to 2007 levels. With wage growth negligible in the face of soaring food and fuel prices, many family budgets have been under unprecedented strain.

To me, this confirms what most of us know intuitively: that when people are struggling with significant difficulties outside work, whether it’s in their personal relationships, over a bereavement or in their finances – the impact of those pressures are not restricted to the home. Almost inevitably they’re going to spill over into the workplace, frequently in the form of employee sickness absence and poor performance.

Getting the wellbeing message loud and clear

The survey sends a clear message for banks seeking to address wellbeing at work: ignore non-work pressures at your peril.

Only by taking a whole person approach to people management, one that gives equal primacy to non-work issues, will companies get the full benefits from their wellbeing strategies. If you haven’t read it already, download the survey; it offers a fascinating overview of the issues affecting employee wellbeing in the banking industry and many of these insights are equally relevant for other employment sectors.