Stress in banking job: Causes, effects and management
Stress is someone's mental or physical state that derives from workload, unexpected situation, accident or crisis, loss of valuables or failure to meet the expectation etc. Results of stress are fatigue, tension, nervousness and frustration. Though we all like to stay away from stress but we have to face it anyway either in our personal, social or in professional life. Some stresses are positive and some are negative. Stress varied from man to man. What is stress for someone, may not stress for others.
Whatever the type of stress, we must have to manage it otherwise it may badly affect our health condition. In a research of American Psychological Association, American Institute of Stress (2017) the most common sources of stress comes from work (61%). Another study, the UK Workplace Stress Survey (2018) also revealed that 59% UK adults agreed that work is the most common cause of stress. The same survey also explained that the most stressful industry in the UK was the finance Sector as 69 per cent of the people felt stressed working in the sector.
In Bangladesh, around three lakh people are working in banking sector which is indeed one of the top most stressful jobs in Bangladesh. In a recent study of BIBM (2019) exposed that more than 50 per cent of the country's bankers bear severe-to-dangerous levels of occupational stress, around 19 per cent suffer from a dangerous level of stress while the stress for 35 per cent is severe, 33 per cent moderate and 12 per cent fairly low and only 1.0 per cent is free of stress.
There are some common causes of work related stress like longer working hour, too much work load, job insecurity, working environment, bossing pressure, work-life balance etc. But in the case of Bank there are some specific causes for being stressed. From different study and experience from the Bankers the most common inclusive and innate stress for bankers are failure to mitigating the business target (Deposit, Credit and Profit). Most of the banks' employee performance yardstick is achievement of the target. Even in some level, job become insecure due to failure to achievement of the target. Longer working hour and work load is another very common causes of work stress.
Though the office hour is 10 AM to 6 PM, very few employees get the opportunity to leave the office at 6 PM. This creates another stress in the personal life of a banker. Distance with the family members of the Banker increase due to longer stay in Bank and shorter time spend in the family. Failure to regulatory compliance is another tension for the bankers. Though the banker's have the intension to comply all the regulatory bindings but in practical, sometimes (due to overburden of work) bankers fail to meet up the regulatory compliance which create a great stress when it comes to the knowledge of the respective regulatory body.
Those who are working in credit or Trade Finance department they have some added stress, most common one is Failure to recovery of loan. It's a kind of stress for which an employee may experience halting promotion and increment, losing retirement benefit etc. Stress due to 'autocrat boss', non-cooperative co-workers, lack of job knowledge etc are also common in Bank. Employee Development program (Human Resource Management) of Bank may create stress, if it fails to fulfil the demand of the employees.
Discrimination of salary and other financial benefit, career growth etc with peer Banks or other industry create psychological stress among the employees. The most unexpected stress is lack of security of job. Nowadays, banking job has becoming insecure in Bangladesh due to unrest in the industry. If a banker lose his job, it is very tough for him to find out other job at same standard due to disgrace of losing job. Now, due to the corona virus pandemic, stress for being affected by deadly virus and panic of decreasing salary increased very alarmingly among all the employees.
As per medical science, stress affects the mental as well as physical heath of human. When a person is stressed, his or her nervous system started to response and release hormones to evade or confront danger. Someone may notice speed up heartbeat, faster breathing, and muscles tense and sweating. This kind of stress is short-term and body may usually recover quickly from it. Some physical sign of shorter term stress are headache, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, upset stomach, irritability etc.
But if stress lasts for a long period of time (chronic stress), it can lead to or aggravate more serious health problems including: depression, high blood pressure, diabetic, abnormal heartbeat, heart disease, heart attack, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, upset stomach- cramps, constipation, and diarrhoea, weight gain or loss, fertility problems, flare-ups of asthma or arthritis.
The institution itself also suffers due to intense stress of job as it is cost associated. Decreasing productivity and morality of the employee, deterioration of workplace environment, decreasing fellowship among the co-workers, increasing hostile relationship among boss and subordinates, increasing absenteeism and employee turnover, increasing cost of insurance or medical associated with employee's are the common effects due to stress in workplace. As banking is a fully service oriented job and good service depends on how the employees behave with the clients. If the employees are in stressed, the service may be hampered which directly affect the Bank's reputation. Sometimes employees may get involved in some bad habits like smoking, alcohol or drug addiction etc to get relief from stress.
As stress is an intrinsic part of the banking job, so there is no way to avoid it neither from professional life nor from personal life. So, the best option is to managing the stress so that neither it obstructs the professions nor disrupts the individual's health. Stress management starts with identifying the causes of stress and then applying remedies for it.
Organization can initiate some techniques for managing workplace stress level low like, creating a healthy and clam environment in the workplace so that employees feel relaxed while working, giving sufficient leisure during lunch time so that employees get refreshed, appreciate and recognized the performance of the employees, celebrating different anniversaries of the employees, organization may encourage social activities, arrange picnic, family gathering, sports annually or a regular interval, facilitates indoor games in workplace after office hour, allow flexible hours or work from home facilities to the most stressful employees, allow mandatory leave for recreation with allowance, compensate for taking stress, arrange counselling to manage work stress etc.
Individuals may change their life style to manage stress and adopt some good habits: physical exercise on regular basis--specially going out for walk, cycling, swimming etc; yoga and meditation are best for reducing stress; taking healthy food, balance diet; sleeping and wake-up early; giving up smoking and drinking; having fun, laughing and hanging out with friends and family; going out for excursion, passing time with hobbies, involving with social groups etc.
Proper management of stress not only good for an organization but also it gives a better way of living to an individual. One of the famous certified stress management coaches of USA named Shereka Dunston said, "Stress management is life management. If you take control of stress, your life will thank you for it!"
The writer is a freelance writer & works for National Bank Ltd