The inaugural Global Benefits Forum Survey from Lockton, a global independent insurance broker, has found that diligent and dedicated employees working around the clock are leading to a false economy within the UK’s largest financial services companies.
The report, released to coincide with Lockton’s annual Global Benefits Forum in London this month, demonstrates that large employers must reassess what they ask of their employees to ensure a happy and healthy workforce that performs to its potential.
With two fifths of multi-national financial services employers (64%) offering mental health resilience support for their employees, and a further quarter 15% of HR directors expecting to do the same in the next decade, maintaining healthy staff is a priority.
However, efforts to champion mental wellbeing are being undermined by the fact that two fifths (65%) of employers in financial services contractually require their employees to be available outside of core office hours. This pressure to be available around the clock is detrimental to employee health, with almost a third of financial services employees (30%) believing this obligation negatively impacts their mental wellbeing.
The report said that short term gains enjoyed by employers could therefore be outweighed by longer term damage to employees’ wellbeing, while also negating the impacting of mental health initiatives being put in place by employers.
There are also commercial implications to being available around the clock. While 91% of of the industry’s employers believe that working longer hours does not have an affect on productivity, Lockton’s research found that 17% of employees in the financial services sector think their output is negatively affected by being on call.
Health and productivity pressures are forcing many employees to draw a line between their work and home lives, as 78% of employees in the financial services industry would refuse to accept a role that required them to be online outside of office hours as part of their job.
However, 30% of HR directors surveyed note that being online at home is expected as part of a role at their company, suggesting a disconnect between employees’ and employers’ expectations when it comes to working beyond office hours.
This perception gap may affect future talent acquisition, as over half of employees (56%) say they would not even consider a job if it required availability beyond core office hours.
Providing more flexible working may relieve the pressure of the ‘always on’ work culture, by allowing employees to work when suits them. 44% of financial services employees cite flexible working hours as the most important benefit they could receive in the next 10 years.
Chris Rofe, senior vice president of UK and International Benefits Practice at Lockton, said: “Many employers are ‘not walking the talk’ when it comes to work life balance. With employers spending millions on health and wellbeing initiatives, many are failing to acknowledge one of the biggest risks to their employees’ health and wellbeing.
“This just doesn’t make sense and leaves employees performing sub optimally or at worst, burning out altogether. Even the most dedicated and driven employees reach their limit and employers owe it to all employees to ensure appropriate down time to re-charge and re-energise.”