Dwindling job security, heavier workloads, regulatory upheaval and the poor public image of the banking sector are taking a toll on the mental health of Britain's bank workers. Francis Maguire reports.
Break out the violins. British bankers are reportedly facing an epidemic of stress. Dwindling job security, constant rule changes, heavier workloads and a rock-bottom public image. It's all taking a toll. That's bad new for individual bankers. But Reuters investment banking correspondent Anjuli Davies says it could also mean big costs for companies, and the British economy: (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS INVESTMENT BANKING CORRESPONDENT, ANJULI DAVIES, SAYING: "The banking industry contributes a large amount to the British economy, both in terms of money and in terms of hiring and the cost of protecting these employees against sick leave, against mental health illnesses, against time off, are greatly increasing." Almost three in four bank workers said they were suffering from stress, according to a recent survey by the Unite union. 85 percent said they were working longer hours. And nearly three quarters said they were thinking about quitting. Now the very lack of sympathy may be making the problem worse: (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS INVESTMENT BANKING CORRESPONDENT, ANJULI DAVIES, SAYING: "No one likes to be hated. And when you're seeing films in the cinema which show the greed of the industry, and you're hearing of endless scandals in the news, this can greatly impact morale, and affect mental health. Banks are trying various remedies. In-house counsellors, mental health first aid courses, and even yoga sessions are all on the menu. But the stress is likely to get worse. Ten of Europe's largest banks have shed 130-thousand jobs since June. Now the prospect of a global slowdown means they're under pressure to cut more. For anyone made redundant though... it might be just the chance to start afresh in a less-hated industry.