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Bank employees are healthy, but…



Bank employees are healthy, but…

The health of bank employees is a core concern of the social partners in the Swiss banking sector. Last year, they conducted a broad-based health survey together with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). The results are now available.

With Healthy@Work, the social partners in the Swiss banking sector – the Swiss Bank Employees Association, the Swiss Association of Commercial Employees and the Employer Banks – provide a platform for health protection in the workplace. Last year, as part of this collaboration, the social partners surveyed bank employees who have a management function or a similar function and who do not record their working hours. These employees are subject to the agreement on working time recording (ARWT). Around 4,000 employees from 100 banks took part in the survey.

Six key findings from the survey

Before going into particularly interesting and possibly surprising results from the 2023 health survey, the most important findings from the survey of bank employees can be summarized in six points:

  1. The working conditions are relevant to health.
  2. The autonomy of employees without time recording is less pronounced than expected.
  3. The pressure to succeed, time-consuming targets and increased availability are the main burdens.
  4. Good cooperation within the team and with the direct manager is a key resource for promoting health.
  5. Regular exchanges on the work situation and health have a high potential to promote health.
  6. Working conditions differ between and within banks. This is why the results from your own organization – also in comparison with others – are particularly useful and helpful.

Take a close look despite good health

“The banks in Switzerland generally have healthy employees,” says Cosima Dorsemagen happily. She is a lecturer at the FHNW School of Applied Psychology and, together with Prof. Dr. Andreas Krause and Nicole Flükiger, is the scientific director of the health survey for banks in Switzerland.
Almost 80 percent of those surveyed stated that they are in good health. This is encouraging and shows that the banks are taking their responsibility towards their employees seriously and offering a healthy working environment. “However, it is also important to take a close look at such surveys,” Dorsemagen points out. This is why the critical results are also of interest when evaluating the Healthy@Work survey. Because: “If we take a close look at the results, we can see which working conditions are linked to health and exhaustion, so that banks can take action at an early stage. We advise every company to do this,” says the specialist for work and health.

Good working conditions, healthy employees

Nevertheless – as the other side of the coin – 20 percent of those surveyed stated that they were exhausted. This means that one in five employees could potentially be absent from work.
“This state of exhaustion is a gradual process,” says Cosima Dorsemagen. The research also clearly shows that good working conditions, which are characterized by autonomy and supportive leadership, for example, contribute significantly to being able to deal with pressure and thus also help to keep employees healthy.
Encouragingly, around 80 percent of those surveyed agree that they have general freedom of action in their day-to-day work. As many as 85% state that they can organize their work themselves. Around 40 percent say that they can influence the amount of work they do. A majority of 58% also have a high degree of autonomy when it comes to working hours or the choice of work location.
On the other hand, 30 percent of respondents have little or no influence on the amount of work. Compensation for overtime is also handled very differently in the various banks and a good 20 percent state that they have little or no influence on the target structure of their work.

Keeping an eye on stress and self-endangerment

Dorsemagen reports a mixed picture when it comes to the stress levels of bank employees. “In any case, it is clear that high levels of stress pose a long-term health risk”.
Around 45 percent of respondents are confronted with high pressure to succeed, a good 40 percent note that performance requirements increase from year to year and around 40 percent state that extended availability (outside of regular working hours) is part of their job. 20 percent say that they experience internal competition between teams or colleagues.
On the other hand, social resources, i.e. social interaction within the team and with managers, were rated as functioning well by 80 percent of those surveyed. Cosima Dorsemagen has a clear stance on these figures: “Without supportive social interaction within the team and with management, it will be difficult to deal with the stresses described in the long term.
The figures on the self-harming behavior of bank employees are also interesting. It is assumed that employees know what is not good for them, but do it anyway. 25 percent of survey participants “often” or “always” work despite being ill. 20 percent say that they “often” or “always” work more than 10 hours a day and 13 percent say that they “often” or “always” get little sleep for the sake of work.

Regular conversations promote health

The most surprising finding from the survey – also for work and organization specialist Cosima Dorsemagen – was the question about discussions with employees on health-related topics: “Such regular discussions are very important for the well-being of employees. This is surprisingly clear from this survey,” says Dorsemagen. When these discussions are held, there is a clear improvement in the work situation with greater autonomy and less stress. Employees with whom regular discussions are held on workload, workload and stress are therefore doing significantly better than those with whom such discussions are not held.

New: survey for all bank employees

The Healthy@Work survey is now available to all bank employees in Switzerland. The survey is open until the end of June 2024. “We are very excited to see whether the results will change significantly if we can now survey all bank employees,” says Cosima Dorsemagen.
In order to measure how employees feel at work, the Healthy@Work survey focuses on two factors: on the one hand, it looks at factors that promote health and, on the other, factors that are critical to health. These two factors play a key role in determining whether employees feel good at work or not.
What is interesting and an added value of the health survey for banks is the opportunity to gain insight into the statistical analysis for the respective bank, provided that at least 20 employees from the respective bank take part in the survey.