Pandemic Sees Respite in the Mental Health of Financial Services Workers


New research highlights a “remarkable improvement” in the mental health of financial and insurance services workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic, following a challenging few years in the wake of both the Senate Inquiry into Insurance and the Banking Royal Commission.

A statement from workplace mental health organisation, SuperFriend, says the new report Spotlight on the Financial and Insurance Industry 2020 uses data from Australia’s largest workplace mental health study, Indicators of a Thriving Workplace, and is a snapshot of mental health and well-being in the Australian financial and insurance services workforce.

The report found that the industry’s overall thriving workplace score leapt to the second highest in 2020, from just sixth in 2019 (up by 3.3 points to 67.6 out of 100).

Margo Lydon …the industry appears to be rallying and recovering from within…

The company says that all five domains of thriving workplaces (connectedness, leadership, policy, culture and capability) showed improvement, with the policy domain recording the strongest improvement.

The study found that during 2020, financial and insurance services workers were in high demand to respond to Government measures designed to ease the financial hardship faced by many Australians, such as the early release of super scheme, mortgage deferrals and reductions, and broader legislative changes, with many working more hours than ever, often by choice.

“Sector workers experienced the largest increases in positive stress compared with workers in other industries (up 3.8pp). Positive stress, also known as ‘eustress’, is a short-term motivator that focuses energy and improves performance.

“The sector also showed the strongest productivity gains of any industry during the pandemic (up 9.8pp since February to 35.6 percent).”

SuperFriend CEO Margo Lydon says it is a good news story for the financial and insurance services industry from a mental health perspective, particularly after the long-term scrutiny the industry endured following the Senate Inquiry and the Banking Royal Commission and the impact these events, and subsequent changes, had on the sector workers’ well-being.

“The industry appears to be rallying and recovering from within, with its people in demand throughout the pandemic …”

She says that during the height of the pandemic “…the industry embraced the challenge of providing much-needed support to customers facing financial uncertainty, stepping in as one of the many essential services vital to Australia’s support and recovery”.

Other findings included:

  • 52.4 percent of financial and insurance industry workers report that their workplace has taken tangible action to improve workers’ mental health and well-being, making it the third most action-oriented industry in Australia, reflecting the industry’s investments in this area over recent years
  • The industry shares the top spot of being most supportive of workers’ mental health and well-being, with more than 60 percent describing their workplace as ‘supportive’ or ‘extremely supportive’ (alongside the information, media and telecommunications industry)
  • All this has led to improved staff retention with 42 percent planning to ‘definitely stay’ with their employer over the next year.