Writer: Brittany Pressner
2 min read September 2021 — As a result of the challenges posed by COVID-19, like social isolation, a new light has been shone on the complexities behind mental health and its consequent effects on performance at work. Recognizing this, employers in the financial and professional services industries have begun modifying their policies to place more of an emphasis on promoting healthier mental wellbeing.
According to a survey recently conducted by the Conference Board, nearly 60% of workers are now reporting concerns about stress and burnout. The COVID-spawned era of working from home, homeschooling kids and general social isolation has acted as a catalyst for employers to address some long standing mental health concerns in demanding industries like finance and professional services.
Leading financial institutions like Goldman Sachs have made major shifts in their corporate policies as a result of complaints from analysts saying they were fearing for their mental health. Nicole Sharpe, a spokesperson for Goldman Sachs, said in a statement, “We recognize that our people are very busy, because business is strong and volumes are at historic levels. A year into Covid people are understandably quite stretched, and that’s why we are listening to their concerns and taking multiple steps to address them.” Goldman Sachs has since promised to enforce a no-work-on-Saturday rule and to transfer employees to departments that are short-staffed.
However, it is not just younger analysts and employees that are experiencing the weight of the pandemic. According to Gingeropens PDF file , a mental health platform founded by a team of entrepreneurs and data scientists at the MIT Media Lab, 94% of CEOs are now receiving mental health support for themselves, and are focusing more on mental health at their companies. CEOs are also recognizing the impact that employees’ mental health can have on work, with 80% believing that poor employee mental health negatively impacts employee productivity.
The topic of mental health in professional services institutions has been particularly prominent throughout San Antonio. In May, Jimmy Holmes, president and publisher of the San Antonio Business Journal, invited a panel of experts from professional services industries around San Antonio to talk about what they have witnessed and experienced as business leaders in their companies.
Jessica Knudsen, president and CEO of Clarity CGC in San Antonio, said at the panel that she recently created a campaign titled “FINE”. According to Knudsen, “If you ask somebody how they are doing and they say fine, it really means they are frustrated, insecure, neurotic and emotional. In reality, none of us are really fine. There is always something deeper to that. The hope is that this time just starts some dialogue in the workplace that we dig a little deeper than fine because I think this last year has taught us, we are not fine. There are a lot of complex emotions tied into the joint trauma we have all gone through with the pandemic.”
Scott Kopecky, managing partner at ADKF, an accounting and professional services company in San Antonio, recently spoke to Invest: about mental health at his firm and how it is now one of the main priorities within the organization. “Our focus has now shifted to ensure we are maintaining employee engagement and mental health. We had given our employees the option of how many days do you want to work in the office or from home, and there was no wrong answer,” Kopecky told Invest:. “We were fostering that because we wanted to keep people’s mental health and flexibility that they needed because of kids in school, etc. Certainly that’s been very rewarding to both us and our employees.”
Companies are now providing support for mental health initiatives including on-demand resources, hybrid work schedules, extending mental health benefits to households, ensuring resources are inclusive, giving extra financial support to employees and destigmatizing mental health at work. Russell Glass, CEO of Ginger, believes in the long term value of prioritizing mental health.
“The increased focus on mental health in the C-suite will benefit both shareholders and workers. As more people take steps to manage their mental health, CEOs should use this momentum to invest in accessible mental health benefits, and to take a leading role in educating employees about the importance of mental health,” Glass told Business wire.