Work Programme Menu:

Work Programme Menu

Work Programme Menu:

Staff /

Staff Pressures & Strain

Background and Context

What we heard

Through our research and engagement with stakeholders we are aware that a significant number of bank staff feel under constant pressure and strain. They also sometimes feel that working at their firm is having a negative impact on their health and well-being.

What we did


In 2021, the IBCB commissioned Karian and Box to design and conduct the second staff culture survey, now re-branded as the éist staff culture survey. The survey was conducted during the Spring of 2021 a period characterised by immense pressures for many bank customers, staff and the wider economy due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, there were a number of material announcements from IBCB member banks during this period which will result in changes to organisational structures and the wider banking market in Ireland. 10,648 staff participated in the survey, which is almost 50% of all staff across our member banks.

Specific areas where the Irish sector scores lower than the FS benchmark relate primarily to the more operational aspects of internal bank culture – staff have cited bureaucracy, inefficient processes and procedures as areas that need to be addressed. The survey results point to a need for senior leaders to do more to really role-model the right behaviours – particularly as regards ways of working such as the need to manage workload, long hours and the right to disconnect.

The survey also looked to assess overall wellbeing and causes of strain for staff, particularly relevant in the context of some of the pressures on staff as a result of the pandemic, including remote working, home schooling, financial and health stresses. 53% of bank staff reported that, in the past 6 months, they have felt under constant strain at work – concerningly this is 10 points above the global norm and a vital area to address.

The results of the éist Bank Staff Culture survey will shape the areas of focus in our work programme. We intend conducting this survey on two-year intervals.

58% Feel that their bank’s commitment to speak-up culture has strengthened
85% Say that people in their organisation do business ethically
Only 57% are proud to work for their organisation
53% Have felt under constant strain in the past 6 months

In October 2018, the Establishment Office of the IBCB commissioned the UK Banking Standards Board to conduct the first culture survey of Irish bank staff. The survey focused on exploring bank staff’s views on a range of issues which lie at the heart of banking culture. The findings of that survey helped inform elements of the IBCB’s work programme, including staff events on Speaking Up, Staff Pressures and Resilience, and Ethics.

The survey (published April 2019) found that a significant number of bank staff feel under excessive pressure to perform at work. They also feel that working at their firm is having a negative impact on their health and well-being. Front Line staff responded most negatively in this area. [1]

[1] Source: IBCB Employee Survey 2018

Key Findings
55% of all employees said that they felt under pressure to perform at work.
49% in functions – 62% in retail This jumped to 70% in Branch staff
33% of employees said that working in their firm had a negative impact on their health and well-being.
49% in Retail Branch staff
Top 20 words used in the survey to describe organisations

A working group was formed with senior representation from our five member banks and including sponsors from the IBCB to collaboratively discuss staff pressure and resilience.

Following our initial session with the working group on Staff Pressure and Resilience we held a series of workshops in Q1 2020 with staff from various locations, backgrounds, locations, roles and levels across our five member banks, to explore further the issues relating to staff pressures.

Feedback received from staff who attended was that the sessions were extremely worthwhile and engaging.

Feedback from staff on these events:

‘The interactivity between multiple staff members was great. It made us feel that our problems weren’t our problems alone. We might sport different ‘brand names’, but a collective identity in relation to the problems we face was an eye opener.

‘What surprised me was that even though people in similar roles were sitting together at the tables, many of the issues faced were consistent across all 5 organisations.’
Key themes which were outputs from the workshops

Lack of resources

Realise efficiencies before reducing headcount

Collaboration v silos

A day in the life of / Trading places programmes

Performance Assessment

Performance review and the ‘Bell Curve’

Regulation and compliance

Pressures from the Regulator


Retirement planning & support

Work / Life Balance

Flexibility v right to switch off