Today, as we celebrate World Mental Health Day, IFA Magazine is sharing the views and opinions on this crucial subject of people from across the financial services sector.
In this blog, Andrew Stickells, HR Manager at Kingswood, highlights how and why Kingswood are taking the mental health of their colleagues particularly seriously, especially given the moves towards greater hybrid and flexible working as he comments:
“It is no secret that the financial services industry has always been a highly pressurised and competitive environment often leading to stress and burnout, and over the last few years this has been compounded by greater feelings of personal and professional uncertainty and anxiety for many. It is not uncommon for many individuals to work at times to a much greater excess than their contracted hours and in the case of advisors focusing so intensely on providing outstanding services to meet the needs of their clients that their own mental wellbeing can often be put on the back burner. During the pandemic, with differing lockdown restrictions across the UK we have further seen that individual stress and mental health challenges have increasingly been dealt with in isolation.
“At Kingswood we provide 24 hour confidential and independent support to our employees through our health insurance and employee assistance programme, including options for one to one counselling sessions on a variety of topics. We have also put a greater emphasis on giving employees the autonomy to manage their own work/life balance through our flexible and hybrid working models. One of our key and most important tasks however has been providing managers with the skills and knowledge to spot stress and mental health challenges with their employees, and provide them with the skills and most crucially the confidence to be able to have open conversations to be able to support one another during these challenging times.
“However there is still work to do, here, and in the wider industry. With greater flexibility for remote working we face the challenge of ensuring that individuals are not dealing with challenges in isolation, and we need to focus on ensuring that we remain on the pulse with all individuals by bringing teams together effectively and ensuring that the little check ins we do with colleagues who may be sitting next to each other still happen when in a geographical spread. The biggest challenge we still face as a sector is removing the stigma that often goes with talking about our mental health, and removing the idea that discussing these can be seen as an unnecessary vulnerability to share. It is only through open and understanding conversations with our employers, managers and colleagues that we can then begin to create a space where we can support one another to create solutions to address and alleviate mental health challenges in the workplace”