Strategic Mental Health in Santander

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Like many modern-day organisations, Santander UK were experiencing difficulties. Sickness absence was on the increase and productivity was lower, suggesting that Presenteeism levels may also be higher. Turnover had increased along with the number of reported stress and mental health cases.  I was brought in by the head of Health and Safety to help him improve mental health

 “Financial Services Has Worst Mental Health” HRMagazine


Working in financial services was always seen as being quite prestigious They are high street names with good career paths. They are seen as good jobs which are well paid, so we would assume that bank workers are healthy, wealthy and happy. When we look at the statistics though, they tell a different picture: almost 3 out of 4 bank employees admitted to workplace Stress (Trade union Unite). More than 1/3 of absences are due to mental ill health (AdviserPlus 2017) compared with around 1/5th in Retail and Utilities, and the % of absences has increased year on year (AdviserPlus 2017).


Why Is Mental Health Poor in Financial Services?


There are a number of factors that have had a negative impact on staff mental health e.g.


  • The financial crisis
  • Regulatory upheaval,
  • The poor public image of the Financial Services sector.
  • Job security has decreased
  • Heavier workloads.


In addition to these factors, there are the usual stressors of reaching ever demanding sales targets.


Addressing Mental Health Strategically


The Wellbeing arena can be very confusing, and many organisations do not know which initiatives to introduce from the wide range of options available on the market. So,  they might offer subsidised gym passes or lunchtime mindfulness classes. Although any intervention aimed at improving mental health is better than no intervention, these kind of interventions, in isolation are unlikely to make a significant impact on bottom line figures.  In order to really tackle mental health, and improve engagement and productivity, organisations need to take a strategic approach to managing mental health within the workplace and this is what we did with Santander. READ MORE HERE:  Strategic mental health in santander2