The financial services industry is made up of a broad range of businesses involved in managing money: commercial banking, investment banking, insurance, accountancy, credit card services, the list goes on and on. It’s an incredibly lucrative field, but one that’s typically synonymous with an unhealthy work culture. Times are changing though, and with it, our expectations of work-life balance in the financial services industry.
We’re now seeing real progress on that front, with encouraging findings from a new independent workplace survey commissioned by Robert Half which states that, ‘69% of Hong Kong CFOs within the financial services industry say the work-life balance of their employees has improved over the past three years.’ This is supported by findings which reveal that, ‘97% of them have initiatives in place to improve the work-life balance of their staff, with flexible working hours being the most popular method.’
The study found the top five work-life balance measures implemented by these financial services companies to be:
- Flexible working hours: 44%
- Additional leave: 44%
- Company restrictions on out-of-office hours use of mobile devices: 24%
- Working from home/telecommuting: 23%
- Restricted working hours: 23%
While it’s promising to see companies embracing work cultures that favour healthier work-life balance, it’s equally important for employees to take the initiative in adopting a healthier approach to work. Here are a few simple but effective tips to help in your pursuit of a healthier work-life balance in the financial services industry:
1. Use tech to make your life easier, not harder
We are so glued to our mobile phones these days that it can be tempting to check our work email even after office hours. This is where technology complicates life rather than simplifying it. If you absolutely can’t resist reading your work email, get yourself a personal phone and turn off your work phone after you leave the office each day. Don’t feel guilty for drawing clear boundaries – you’re not a machine. Make use of technology to make your life easier, not harder. As the saying goes, ‘Work smart, not hard.’
2. Know when to switch off
It can seem impossible at times, but work shouldn’t define who you are or take over your life. There’s so much more to life than working feverishly to please your employers. Out of the office, take pleasure in having a personal life: spend time with friends and loved ones, treat yourself to relaxing spa treatments, flex your creative muscles by working on personal projects – switch off from work and just focus on YOU.
3. Have clear priorities
It’s easy to get so engrossed in work that you forget about your personal priorities. If that’s the case for you, it might help to remind yourself of your personal goals. Write down the top five goals you want to achieve within the next two years. These goals are your priorities and should guide your decisions on how to spend your time and energy. Print it out and pin it up somewhere visually accessible so you can be constantly reminded of your priorities.
4. Make the most of your working hours
Time management makes a huge difference to how much you can get done during work hours. Make the most of your working day by ensuring you work in the most efficient and productive way possible. Here’s where technology plays a key role – for example, instead of saving multiple versions of a document due to changes by different parties, use Google Docs for online collaboration so all changes are saved in real-time, on the cloud. As we said earlier, ‘Work smart, not hard.’ Aim to simplify matters rather than the opposite.
5. Work for companies who care about their employees’ well-being
Targeting employers and companies with healthy work cultures should be a priority, if you’re not already working for one. If it’s difficult finding like-minded employers where you are, perhaps you should cast a wider net and consider relocating or exploring a different career path. There is a company out there looking for your talents and skills. You just need to look in the right place. Get a head start by creating a profile on JobStreet.com, if you haven’t already done so.
6. Value your health more than wealth
Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy you peace of mind or happiness. Financial stability is important, but so is a balanced approach. ‘Keep all things in moderation,’ as the saying goes – an apt motto that should be applied to all areas of life, including work and play.
While it used to be the norm for professionals in the financial services industry to work long hours and late nights on a regular basis, we are seeing a gradual but undeniable shift towards a healthier work culture in the industry. You can make a difference too, by starting the dialogue in your company about the importance of work-life balance in the financial services industry.
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