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02/11/2015

Eight Leading Indicators That Your Banking Job Is Killing You


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Is your banking job doing you in?

Your banking job may be boring. It may be exhausting, stressful, all-consuming, and fraught with the sort of political machinations better suited to an episode of Question Time, but does it have serious implications for your mortality? Researchers at Stanford Business School and Harvard University have come up with a helpful checklist of workplace stressors which suggest that it might.

1. You’ve experienced a layoff or period of unemployment.

Studies indicated that mortality risk increases by 44% to 100% in the year after losing a job. Layoffs induce financial stress. They also result in the erosion of "social identity" when you’re removed from coworkers. This may be why the unemployed are twice as likely to experience depression.

Layoffs are, unfortunately, a fact of life when you work in banking.

2. You feel insecure in your job. 

Job insecurity can also increase mortality risk. A study showed that female nurses who felt at risk of job loss were 89% more likely to have a (non-fatal) heart attack.

Job insecurity is also incredibly common in investment banking.

3. You’re working long hours, in shifts. 

Long hours are associated with higher self-reported hypertension. They’re also associated with a higher incidence of occupational injury (although it’s not clear how you can injure yourself on a spreadsheet). The real killer, however, is shift work and long hours combined.

4. Your work is upsetting your family life.

If your work interferes with your ability to fulfill your function in your family, it can also shorten your lifespan. Work-family conflict can lead to physical health problems, mental health problems, substance abuse, and alcoholism. Studies show that work-family conflict causes poor health rather than the other way around.

5. You’re working incredibly hard and you have no control over your workload.

Low job control and high job demands are positively associated with increased cardiovascular disease. IBD analysts who have pitch book re-writes imposed upon them at 6pm would seem to fall into this category.

6. You have no social network at work.

Do you attend work social events? Are you part of a work mentoring network? Maybe you should be. Studies indicate that social support can have a buffering effect on stress. The more supported you feel, the less pernicious the stress will be. Company town hall events probably do not count in this category.

7. You feel unfairly treated. 

Research also suggests that, “organizational justice,” or the perception that you’re being treated unfairly at work is also deleterious for your psychological and physical health. Most banks like to think they’re meritocracies, but as we noted earlier, politics can be more important than performance at mid-levels. If you feel you’ve been unfairly overlooked for promotion to a managing director role, this could also incur an extra mortality risk.

8. You have no health insurance. 

An absence of associated health insurance (if you’re based in the U.S.) is the biggest indicator that your jobs is bad for your health. No insurance increases financial stress, which increases mortality risk. It also means that medical conditions go untreated.

If you work in banking, this is unlikely to be an issue. That’s fortunate, given the other seven points can be pretty prevalent in banking jobs…

–Sarah Butcher

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