In the midst of Mental Health Awareness Week, pressures mount on firms in the City to do more for their staff on mental health issues, one worker details his experiences with depression having burnt out in the cut-throat environment. With one in six people reported to have a common mental health problem in any given week, is working in the City bad for your mental health?
Below is a selection of interesting articles from the past month covering these issues and more, including flexible working and how some companies are including egg freezing as an employee benefit.
Is working in the City bad for your mental health?
The Telegraph shares the story of John Binns, a partner at Deloitte who described how he ran out of endurance, and took a three month break from work to treat his depression. 12 years on, he speaks openly about his experience at a time when the City of London is gaining high-profile advocates for the protection of workers’ mental health in what can be a cut-throat environment. NHS figures show that one in six people report a common mental health problem in any given week, yet despite the increased awareness City firms are still demanding long hours and constant availability from their employees.
‘Emailing now suits me, but you don’t have to reply’: what your email signature says about flexible working
According to a 2018 YouGov study, only six per cent of people now work the traditional 9-5 shift, while half work flexibly, job share, or work compressed hours, The Telegraph reports. The most desired shift is 8am-4pm, followed by 7am-3pm. This has led to a rise in employees adding disclaimers to their email signatures to alert recipients to their flexible schedules – with one email signature at accounting giant Grant Thornton reading: “At Grant Thornton we work in an agile manner and emailing you now suits me. I respect your choice of when and how you work and I don’t expect a response outside of your working hours”.
The dream of a four-day week needs a lot more work
Pilita Clark writes for the FT on the Wellcome Trust’s U-turn on moving towards a four-day week. After consultation on the change that would affect around 800 staff, Wellcome decided it could not even trial a four-day week without “an unacceptable disruption” to its business. One issue impacting the decision was fairness, as staff do a lot of different jobs – it was not going to be fair to let some people work four days if others had jobs that made this much harder to do. For example, while those managing research grants could adapt to the flexibility of a four-day week, those keeping the museum open seven days a week could not.
Why Facebook and Google offer egg freezing as a perk of the job
At a recent tech conference, Women in Silicon Valley, guests were treated to a crash course on freezing their eggs, with one Dr Debra Minjarez telling the conference it is “very empowering for women”. The Telegraph informs that Google, Facebook and Apple have been offering egg freezing as an employee benefit since 2014, resulting in up to 80% of Dr Minjarez’s clients coming from the tech industry. San Francisco, home to Silicon valley, now has an average age for first time mothers of 34, while the national average is 26. While many see this as a perk, the decision to offer freezing sparked controversy as critics warned it would create a culture which pressured women into forfeiting legal rights to maternity leave in order to climb the leadership ladder and tie them to their jobs.
Measurement and evaluation