Remote work is fueling burnout in the financial sector
The practical challenge of working from home has proven surprisingly easy for many financial services companies. However, a year after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close their offices, operational challenges have given way to another worry: the risk of burnout among their staff.
As lockdowns take a toll on mental health, companies must find new ways to care for workers operating in a remote environment. The alternative may be to face an increase in negativity, a drop in productivity, or the total loss of staff if they quit.
Anecdotally, instances of burnout appear to be on the rise in financial organizations, whose banking and advisory services have remained in high demand during the pandemic.
“The cohesion of a culture and its social and positive character are directly related to the performance of the company,” says Kira Schabram, professor at the Foster School of Business in Seattle. “Burnout directly predicts reduced performance and reduced engagement. . . people are much more likely to quit and much more likely not to work as hard for you.
According to a survey out of more than 1,000 employers by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a professional body for HR managers, 47% of respondents cited mental wellbeing as the top challenge of working from home.
And the search last year, consultancy Deloitte calculated that poor mental health costs employers in the UK up to £45billion a year.
Classified as a professional syndrome According to the World Health Organization, burnout results from “chronic stress at work that has not been successfully managed.” Symptoms include exhaustion, cynicism and lower efficiency.
“What causes burnout is an imbalance between your demands and your resources, so you have too many demands and too few resources,” says Paula Davis, founder of Stress and Resilience Institute, an American consulting firm. “Resources” refers not only to time and energy, but also to “decompression” times, such as commuting between meetings, vacations, and dinners with friends. These have been swept away by the pandemic.
In the United States, a Stanford University to study found that people filled the gap with more work instead of other recreational activities. According to the survey, Americans spent about 35% of the time saved by not commuting to work longer at their job, and an additional 60% on other unpaid work activities such as housework and babysitting. children.
Some companies have implemented community and wellness programs that include yoga sessions, granted extra days off, and offered subscriptions to meditation apps to encourage employees to decompress. But Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, the UK mental health charity, says such initiatives are not enough if harmful practices, such as overly tight deadlines or email exchanges late in the day at night, persist.
“What really matters to people is their workload, their relationship with the supervisor, and whether or not they feel valued,” she says.
In order to bring about real change, managers must lead by example, says Peter Brown, co-head of the global people and organization team at consultancy PwC. “Management should [provide a] model [showing] it’s good to take a break. . . saying, ‘Sorry, I can’t do this because I’m taking an hour off or going out with the kids,'” he says. “Or, having been on Zoom nonstop, for some calls I will dial while walking the dog. This is to show that this kind of behavior is acceptable.
Valentina Kristensen, director of growth and communications at start-up OakNorth, says the ability to tell the difference between overwork and flextime depends on strong relationships with employees.
“We can see people who tend to open their laptops early in the morning, we can see what time emails are sent . . . But everyone has personal circumstances,” she says. “Ideally, if people have their cameras on, if you can see that someone looks extremely physically tired, that’s a very clear indicator. This is why it is important to have these regular catch-ups.
Kristensen adds that she must have been aware of her own behavior. “Over the past 12 months, when there hasn’t been much going on from a social point of view, I’ve been like, ‘Well, why wouldn’t I use this time to work, otherwise I’m ‘will be bored at home doing nothing’ We have consciously tried to avoid this to avoid burnout.
Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange platform, which has gone to a “remote first” Work model last year says that training employees to recognize these behavioral cues is crucial. This physical separation [of home and work] does not exist in the same way, so individuals need to be much better at setting boundaries,” says Dominique Baillet, Global Head of Employee Experience, Diversity and Inclusion at Coinbase. “It’s about really focusing on coaching leaders to manage and coaching team members on how to build resilience.”
If companies don’t address these challenges, they risk losing staff and may struggle to attract new talent. Last month, when a group of Goldman Sachs analysts raised concerns about their workload, most said they were unlikely to stay at the bank or recommend it to others if the working conditions did not improve.
“Even during the pandemic, we see the dynamism of the recruiting market,” says Brown at PwC. “Talented people with in-demand skills have choice and can use it.”