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Banking and Finance

Blogs on work and wellbeing in the financial sector.

Every organisation stands on the strength of its people. That’s why the mission of Bank Workers Charity (BWC) is to ensure the banking industry has a stronger, more resilient workforce. We do this by helping banks to refine their existing wellbeing strategies and by providing support to people working at all levels within the banking industry.

This duality of the work we do gives us a unique perspective on the wellbeing narrative – we view it from both the employer and employee point of view. Which is why we understand that organisation-wide approaches to wellbeing are so important.

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Over the past six years, barely a week has gone by where bankers aren’t being criticised in the media spotlight. Yes, we do need to report issues of rigging, fines and misdemeanours but, as with most cases of rehabilitation, culture change in banking is also heavily reliant on our support.

Regulation will help to curb excessive risk-taking, as Mark Carney has frequently implored, but as many senior financial figures have stated the weight of regulation can also stifle the progress of reform. Hefty fines do serve a purpose in the short term, but sustainable and successful industries are based on a system of self-regulation that takes time to develop. If ethical behaviour is the end-goal then right now banking is in the foothills of cultural reform, by its own admission.

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Something is definitely stirring in the undergrowth. It might be because of the warmer weather. It could be down to the start of the World Cup and a “glorious summer of sport” (copyright all sports journalists). But in workplaces around the country recruiters are beginning to recruit in larger numbers, and employees have noticed that the economic recovery may be for real.

We are reaching the end of what Lesley Uren, a talent management expert at PA Consulting, calls “employee hibernation”. For several long years of retrenchment holding on to your job may have seemed like the only real priority worth having. But now managers might need to deploy a few “springwatch” skills of their own. Because once hibernation is over some employees may feel the time has come to move on.

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“Cashier number four, please!” We’re all familiar with that chirpy, upbeat voice which summons us to meet a bank employee sitting behind the glass. We might hear that cry only once or twice a month, given how infrequently some of us go into bank branches these days. For the staff, though, it is a different matter. That voice punctuates their working day. And it brings them into contact with a range of customers – some of whom are polite and friendly, but some of whom are…not.

Money can make most of us tense at one time or another. Think then for a moment about those people who have to work with bank customers all the time, whether in branches or at call centres. And then reflect on the financial crisis of recent years, which has been blamed by many on “the banks”, and the people who work for them.

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The press has recently highlighted a number of cases where high profile bankers have needed to take time out to recover from excessive stress in their jobs. At the Bank Workers Charity we know that high stress levels are not confined to top bankers and that bank employees at all levels have to manage their wellbeing.

We launched the first stage of our groundbreaking research into the lives of bank workers in March this year, looking at workplace stress and specifically at those factors outside of work that have an impact on bank employees. The results show a broad range of stresses - from 63% of bank workers reporting having poor sleep quality due to daily hassles to 57% that are troubled by job insecurity. Other themes include workers being significantly affected by long hours and what they consider to be fault-finding bosses.

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Cary CooperGood Day at Work®

The new wellbeing resources hub founded by @profcarycooper and Roberston Cooper. Join for FREE and access blogs, videos, downloads, podcasts and more.

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MD of Cary Cooper's business psychology firm, Robertson Cooper - for all things wellbeing, engagement and resilience at work.

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Professor Cary Cooper, Director and Founder of Robertson Cooper Ltd, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.

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