GFC increased mental illness in financial sector

Mental health challenges have increased in the financial services sector since the global financial crisis, with workers facing job losses and redundancy threats.

Research from the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors showed workers in the finance sector self-reported higher rates of mental health issues, with around two-thirds of people negatively affected by work.

But the survey of 48 companies, including banks, IOOF, and funds management firms, also showed 75 per cent of financial services companies reported well-being programs, while 92 per cent of companies have introduced formal initiatives to make the workplace more flexible.

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Training and development opportunities were able in 96 per cent of companies, while access to employee assistance programs or counselling was available in 75 per cent of companies.

Figures also showed board responsibility especially for health and safety issues stood at 50 per cent of financial companies, while 63 per cent of companies had a senior person dedicated to health and safety issues.

However, ASX200 financials were well behind their UK and Europe counterparts when it came to physical and mental health and safety disclosure, with 58 per cent of financial companies carrying out moderate or good disclosure, while 87 per cent of industry peers in the UK, and 73 per cent in Europe had the same levels of disclosure.

The report also said 88 per cent of ASX200 financial companies reported formalised employee engagement, with satisfaction levels were above 50 per cent.

"While this does not necessarily indicate that only the companies that disclose employee satisfaction levels have high satisfaction levels, it does raise the question of whether satisfaction levels are only disclosed if they are high," the report said.

"Do companies avoid disclosure for fear that satisfaction levels might drop over time, and they may attract criticism from external stakeholders?"

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