The financial services industry is plagued with chronically low levels of engagement with a nationwide study revealing one in three finance professionals is unhappy in their job.

The highest levels of unhappiness were amongst Gen Y with 40 per cent reporting they work in joyless jobs, according to research by pac executive Human Capital. Those in their mid-50s and older were the happiest, with only 25 per cent reporting job dissatisfaction.

SuperFriend, the mental health foundation created by industry super funds, has also been conducting research. It found 45 per cent of people in the finance sector thought mental health and wellbeing was not being addressed at all.

In addition, 41 per cent said while mental health and wellbeing has been identified as a problem, it had not been a priority for action.

“Collectively 6 in 7 businesses recognise that mental health and well-being is an issue, but it is not receiving the appropriate action by employers,” Margo Lydon, chief executive officer of SuperFriend, said.

In June SuperFriend launched Promoting positive mental health in the workplace: guidelines for organisations to assist businesses in developing a work place that promoted positive health, asserting this would improve the bottom line.

This point was echoed by pac executive Human Capital which said unhappy employees are 22 per cent less productive than their happy counterparts – resulting in billions of dollars being lost to the economy every year.

Following the publication, SuperFriend last month released the first of eight Action Area Guides which aims to provide a framework giving clear guidance on how to provide better support to people who are either experiencing or are at risk of developing psychological problems while on an insurance claim.

(Claims attributed to mental illness and suicide represent approximately 10 per cent of all insurance claims within superannuation.)

“The Taking Action Framework has the primary motivation to improve the outcomes for  superannuation funds’ members on claims, knowing that if we can get people returning to work earlier, or even not to need to go on the claims in the first place, then that’s the best outcome,” Lydon said.

She added a secondary gain from developing the framework would be for staff working in the finance sector, as the implementation would make their job lot easier and a lot more enjoyable “on a whole lot of levels, enabling them to be productive and a lot more engaged”.

“There’s lots of opportunity for financial services internally to improve their culture and their workplace through a range of programs we offer,” Lydon said.

“Other factors we are also very aware of are things like leadership and management skills to support employees. When employees feel well supported by their boss or supervisor that is another indicator of happiness at work, and leads to greater engagement and productivity, which leads to increased profitability,” Lydon said.

The pac executive Human Capital study also found men are more likely to be miserable in finance jobs (34 per cent) than women (29 per cent). And surprisingly, the highest earners in the industry did not rank well either, with almost 40 per cent feeling gloomy at the office despite enjoying a $300,000 plus salary.

The happiest workers earned $150,000 to $200,000.

Those nearing the bottom of the income scale were the least cheerful, with the lowest proportion of happy workers falling within the $50,000 to $70,000 pay bracket. Job satisfaction significantly drops for finance professionals working more than 50 hours per week, and to no-one’s surprise, those working 60 plus hours experience the most misery.

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