New whitepaper on UK banks’ approach to employee wellbeing
Our whitepaper, Looking ahead: Wellbeing at work in the banking sector, examines why, with the unique set of challenges facing the UK’s banks, prioritising employee wellbeing has become more important than ever.
Our understanding of the link between employee wellbeing and business effectiveness has come a long way from the earliest employee assistance programmes developed in 1950s America. Today, the wellbeing of a company’s workforce is understood to play a major role in reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity, and wellbeing programmes are appreciated for their contribution to performance, loyalty and culture. In forward-looking businesses, a meaningful and sustained workplace wellbeing strategy is no longer viewed as an extravagance; it’s understood to be a business imperative.
Today’s challenging business environment has markedly increased the pressures on employees in the UK workplace. This can be seen in our long-hours, always-on culture, the rise in presenteeism (working while ill) and the growing number of people experiencing poor mental health at work. Yet the future success of organisations hinges on having a workforce that’s healthy and resilient. This is something that banks, in particular, recognise.
Why banks are prioritising wellbeing at work
As the Bank Workers Charity (BWC), we play an important role in building and maintaining levels of wellbeing among the UK’s banking population. And our work in the sector has given us a unique understanding of the complex reasons banks have for prioritising employee wellbeing. They want to be viewed as good employers and are commonly at the forefront of best practice in HR. But there’s another significant reason for banks to focus on wellbeing: the unprecedented levels of change occurring within the sector, change that brings uncertainty and pressure for bank employees.
- As a consequence of its role in the economic crash, the banking sector is in the midst of an all-embracing culture change. This is centring on accountability, professionalism, values, and a response to the needs of vulnerable customers
- There has been a prodigious increase in the scale and breadth of work associated with new regulatory measures facing the sector
- Banks are at the forefront of automation and digital transformation, which has far-reaching implications for the future of the sector
By building employee wellbeing, banks recognise that they can support the implementation of these far-reaching changes, creating a workforce that is more resilient and capable of negotiating such a fast-changing environment. It also affords them the opportunity to reconnect with employees and rebuild morale, which was severely damaged by the events leading up to the financial crisis.