X

This is not a paywall.

Register for free to continue reading.

The news sucks. But your reading experience doesn't have to. Help us improve that for you by registering for free.



Please create a password or click to receive a login link.


Please enter your password or get a login link if you’ve forgotten


Open Sesame! Thanks for registering.

First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

We need so many more of our readers to join them. The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country. We are inundated with tip-offs; we know where to look and what to do with the information when we have it – we just need the means to help us keep doing this work.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

HSBC Manager Heart Attack Prompts Viral Post About Over...

Business Maverick

Business Maverick

HSBC Manager Heart Attack Prompts Viral Post About Overwork

A person works from home on a laptop computer in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
By Bloomberg
22 Apr 2021 0

When Jonny Frostick realized he was having a heart attack this month, the first thing that occurred to the HSBC Holdings Plc contractor was: “I needed to meet with my manager tomorrow, this isn’t convenient.”

Then he thought about funding for a project, his will, and finally, his wife.

Frostick, who manages more than 20 employees working on regulatory data projects, chronicled his near-death experience in a viral LinkedIn post that had been viewed almost 8 million times. The 45-year-old Briton is the latest financial employee to weigh in on the work-till-you-drop culture during a pandemic that’s obliterated the lines between office and home life for droves of workers.

“Whereas before I would finish sensibly anywhere between five and half six, I’d be finding myself there on a Friday at 8 o’clock at night exhausted, thinking I need to prep up something for Monday and I haven’t got time, and I started then to actually work weekends,” Frostick said in a phone interview from his home in Dorset. “That’s my responsibility. I think that was probably for me where it was those blurring of boundaries.”

“We all wish Jonathan a full and speedy recovery,” said HSBC spokeswoman Heidi Ashley. “The response to this topic shows how much this is on people’s minds and we are encouraging everyone to make their health and wellbeing a top priority.”

Frostick said he and colleagues spend a disproportionate amount of time on Zoom calls, and work days can stretch to 12 hours. The isolation of remote work also takes a toll, he said.

“We’re not able to have those other conversations off the side of a desk or by the coffee machine, or take a walk and go and have that chat,” he said. “That has been quite profound, not just in my work, but across the professional-services industry.”

The former construction worker took a different path into finance than many of his peers. A native of Bournemouth, an English coastal town, he worked in his father’s building business and didn’t get a bachelor’s degree until he was 29.

When he arrived in London, the self-described country boy had to learn how to use the Underground subway system, and mixed for the first time with ballet and theater aficionados. From there, he went down a path of intense work that included stints at Accenture Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co., U.K. government ministries and Deutsche Bank AG. He cultivated a so-called mask to fit into corporate culture.

Frostick, who has three young children, said he is responsible for the overwork and neglect of his health that culminated in the heart attack. Now he wants to share his wake-up call with others.

“I owe a responsibility to myself and other people,” Frostick said. “This happened to me, this could happen to you. You need to change that.”

He wants to drive conversation around the post-pandemic work culture and hopes employers will implement a more-flexible approach. In the post, Frostick vowed to make changes, including limiting Zoom calls, restructuring his approach to work and spending more time with family. The post received more than 214,000 likes and generated thousands of messages from people who are rethinking their attitudes.

Frostick is still recovering from his hospital stay, and only has enough energy to get out of bed for a couple of hours at a time. He’s enjoying time with his wife and children, and eventually wants to do more work on a dilapidated Mercedes. There’s some talk about non-executive director roles or advisory work. Someone suggested he write a book.

The decision to write the raw LinkedIn post comes at a precarious time in his life and finances, said Frostick. He’s racked up costs from court proceedings with his ex-wife over child-care arrangements for their daughter.

“My back’s against the wall,” he said.

Still, he doesn’t blame HSBC for his health problems and is bullish about future prospects.

“I don’t think this should reflect badly on the place where I work, I think it’s fairly consistent across the industry, and I think that’s why it’s resonated with so many people,” he said. “If an organization didn’t want to employ me because I’d actually taken a moment to reflect, and capture this, then that’s probably not the right place for me to be working.”

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted