Issues with mental health and workplace stress are presenting themselves more often. So, making sure your firm has the resources to handle those issues is quickly becoming a necessity. Since April is Stress Awareness Month, we’ve had a look at the Big Four (PWC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG) to see what they’re doing to combat the issues of workplace stress.

According to a survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of mental health charity Mind, “Workplace stress caused 42% of respondents to consider resigning, while 40% had looked for a new job elsewhere”. Stress in the workplace can cause people to make drastic changes to their careers, something which – with the resources available today – can be easily avoided. Not only do employers have a duty of care to their employees but research repeatedly shows that supportive, healthy working environments are positively related to an increase in productivity.

In order to combat issues surrounding stress, support employees if and when they’re struggling and create environments that allow employees to thrive, the financial industry needs to look at what’s working.

Looking at the effective initiatives run by industry leaders such as PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG, we get a better idea of what firms can do to reduce the stress felt by their workforce.

PwC – Resilience Workshops

PwC teamed up with the charity Mind to devise tailored ‘Resilience Workshops’. These sessions are designed to help educate line managers on how to deal with issues of mental illness within their teams. PwC want to ensure their managers are confident and feel able to provide the correct guidance to help a member of their team if the need arises.

The financial service firm’s workshops attract over 3,500 employees. They focus on helping teams stay engaged and healthy and present tactics and strategies that help them formulate action plans, should a member of the team ever need help.

Deloitte – Time Out Scheme

Deloitte has gone to great measures to make sure its employees receive the right treatment and guidance should they ever experience a mental illness. The firm has trained 20 mental health champions who are on hand for employees to talk to confidentially. These champions are also there to look out for anyone they think might be suffering in silence and are expected to raise their concerns with the relevant line manager.

Deloitte strives to give their employees a healthy work-life balance. Their Time Out scheme offers employees four weeks unpaid leave per year, in addition to their annual leave entitlement, in order to balance their lives with a successful and fulfilling career. Deloitte believes that much of a business’ success can be attributed to its employees, so it’s of the upmost importance that those employees are kept happy and fulfilled.

EY – 8 Pledges Signed

In 2014, EY signed 8 pledges in the Department of Health’s public health responsibility deal. These pledges were made to reinforce the firm’s commitment to looking after its employees with emotional, mental and physical health issues.

One of their promises was to roll out an initiative, which included educating 378 employees on mental health to ensure that if an employee ever needed assistance there’d be someone on call who knew what to do and how to deal with it.

In 2015 EY was named one of the top 25 best Big Companies To Work For by the Sunday Times, thanks to their actions in raising awareness and combatting workplace stress. They were also awarded a Mental Health First Aid England Award in 2015 for their help in improving awareness on mental health in the workplace.

KPMG – Be Mindful Network

Nick Baber, director at KPMG UK, set up the firm’s Be Mindful Network back in 2015, having previously suffered from severe depression himself. KPMG were very open to Baber setting up the network for the company, to help those in a similar position to him.

The Be Mindful Network is comprised of over 600 employees and the number is continuing to grow. It aims to help those, across the organisation, who are experiencing mental illness, or who simply want to maintain a mentally healthy life. Many employees at KPMG have highly demanding jobs, often causing their workplace stress to increase. This network helps professionals conquer and prevent this stress, without having to leave the firm.

Each of the Big Four firms have their own initiatives and understand the importance of addressing mental illness and workplace stress. It’s great to see these firms leading the way to a more open and understanding industry, lighting the path for other firms to follow.

According to a recent report by Health and Safety Executive, “The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures”. Employers need to look closely at what’s on their team’s plates, making sure they notice if and when an employee is struggling to cope with their workload. It’s important to look at how work can be re-distributed within the team or, alternatively, out-sourced.

As an industry, our ability to deal with employee stress is only going to improve by giving it the due care and attention that it deserves. It’s not only the right thing to do by our workforce, but creating a positive environment boosts productivity and employee engagement.

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