More than 50 per cent of the country's bankers bear severe-to-dangerous levels of occupational stress, which causes an adverse impact on their professional and personal life, according to a study.
The study has revealed that around 19 per cent of the bankers 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. Only 1.0 per cent is free of stress.
The study on 'Occupational Stress and Job Performance of Employees of Banks: Bangladesh Perspective' was presented on Wednesday at a seminar organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) at its auditorium in the city's Mirpur area.
Bangladesh Bank Deputy Governor and BIBM Executive Committee Chairman SM Moniruzzaman addressed the programme as the chief guest.
Dr Muzaffer Ahmad Chair Professor of the BIBM Dr Barkat-e-Khuda, BIBM Supernumerary Professor Helal Ahmed Chowdhury, Rupali Bank Ltd Managing Director & CEO Md Obayed Ullah Al Masud and Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd Managing Director and CEO Md. Mahbub-ul-Alam also spoke.
BIBM Professor and Director (RD&C) Dr Prashanta Kumar Banerjee delivered the welcome speech at the programme while BIBM Associate Professor Dr Mohammad Tazul Islam presented the keynote paper of the seminar with BIBM Director General Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman chairing .
Presenting the keynote, Mr Islam said chasing higher targets is one of the primary sources of occupational stress of the employees in the country's banks. The targets mainly include deposit mobilisation, loan disbursement and recovery.
He said there are about 180,000 people working in the country's banking industry. Of them, around 99 per cent are facing some sort of stress that affects their performance.
The study reveals that the 19 per cent of employees suffering a dangerous level of stress require regular medication and check-up.
Around 60 per cent of those holding the posts of deputy general manager (DGM) and equivalent positions and those above those positions in the banking sector are suffering a dangerous level of stress, which needs special attention, the BIBM researcher has said.
In terms of age, about 25 per cent employees in 35-44 years' age bracket are facing dangerous level of occupational stress followed by around 22 per cent of 45-54 years' old employees.
The study shows that 35 per cent employees are facing severe stress at workplaces and at a certain stage they start experiencing negative effects of the stress.
They need to take stress-related medicine or require any other therapy. Here, stress becomes distress (or traumatic stress) when it lasts too long, occurs too often, or is too severe, Mr Islam said.
The study finds that 40 per cent employees who are 55 years old and above have the severe level of stress, followed by 35 per cent of the 35-44 and 25-35 years' old employees.
About 33 per cent employees in the banking industry have a moderate level of stress, he said.
"However, people facing moderate level of stress tend to perform better in the workplace resulting in higher growth of an organisation."
About 38 per cent of senior principal officers (SPO) to assistant general managers (AGM) and equivalent officers have the moderate level of stress.
The study also finds that 1.0 per cent employees of the banks have relatively low level of stress or stress is not an issue for them and about 12 per cent employees have a fairly low level of stress.
The UK Workplace Stress Survey (2018) 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.
However, around the world, top stressful jobs defined by thejobnetwork.com are those of surgeons, news reporters, military personnel, fire-fighters, police officers, senior corporate officers, teachers and catering managers.
Though the ranking of stressful jobs varies around the world, the financial sector jobs are considered as among the most stressful around the world, Mr Islam said.
Talking about ways of reducing occupational stress, Mr Islam said friendly working environment, proper career development plan, motivation for work, job stress-related training and physical exercise and healthy diet can reduce stress in an individual.
Speaking as the chief guest, BB deputy governor Mr Moniruzzaman said aiming to reduce stress of employees, the central bank played a proactive role in introducing six months' maternity leave for women employees, day care centre facilities for the children of employees, etc.
Terming lack of sharing or talking about problems the key reason behind stress of bankers, he said the hesitation to share problems can be removed, if banks employ counsellors.
If the employees can share their feelings, the counsellor can guide them to overcome their issues they are facing whether in their professional or personal life, Mr Moniruzzaman added.
Mr Khuda said it is clearly established that job-related stress, especially the acute type, has an adverse impact on productivity, absenteeism, worker turnover, and employee's health.
In the concluding speech, the BIBM Director General said line managers mostly rely on few employees fully to complete the jobs in an organisation which automatically creates an imbalanced role distribution among the employees in the department.
Such reliance on the employees creates an overloaded task which should be reduced, he said.
The study also underlines that working past office hours, imposing multiple roles on one individual, problematic customer handling, lack of financial reward and appreciation, unfair promotion, poor relationship with supervisors and peers, and lack of transportation are other reasons behind workplace stress.
Workplace conflict, workload, annual confidential report (ACR), external pressure, posting location, and technological upgrade are also responsible for stress.