Working out-of-office hours harms mental wellbeing

Adam Saville
25th June, 2018

Almost a third of financial services workers are badly affected mentally by ‘working around the clock’, a study by Lockton has found

Living in age of always being online and contactable for work-related issues is having a detrimental effect on the mental health of financial services employees, it has been suggested by Lockton’s Global Benefits Forum Survey.

The survey – 400 interviews with HR directors and 400 employees at firms with 1000-plus employees with a UK HQ and presence in either Europe or US, and/or Asia – found that almost a third of employees (30%) said working outside of traditional working hours was harmful to their mental wellbeing, while 17% said it negatively affects their productivity.

The study also found that two-thirds of multinational financial services employers (64%) were offering mental health resilience support for employees, while a quarter (15%) of HR directors said they were expecting to commit to this within the next decade.

Seemingly efforts to alleviate workplace stress are being undermined by the fact that, according to the study, 65% of financial services employers contractually require employees to be available outside of core office hours.

Long-term damage

The study’s findings suggest that the short-term gains enjoyed by employers could be outweighed by the long-term damage to employees’ wellbeing, while negating the impact of workplace mental health initiatives.

Meanwhile, 91% of these employers believed that working longer hours does not affect productivity, however Lockton’s research found that almost a fifth (17%) of employees believed that being on call does negatively affect their output.

Talent retention

The study also found that employees are being put off jobs requiring them to work around the clock, with three-quarters (78%) saying they would refuse a role asking them to be online outside of office hours.

Almost a third (30%) of HR directors surveyed noted that being online at home was expected as part of roles at the company, while over 56% of employees said they would not even consider a job if it required availability beyond core office hours.

Meanwhile, 44% of financial services employees said flexible working hours would be the most important employee benefit they could receive within the next 10 years.

“Many employers are ‘not walking the talk’ when it comes to work life balance,” Chris Rofe, Senior Vice president of UK and International Benefits Practice at Lockton. “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.”

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