Wellbeing in the workplace - a broking view
24 October 2023
26 October 2023
Laura Hancock, Chair of the CII Broking Community Board
10 October was World Mental Health Day. The purpose of the day is to educate, to raise awareness and to campaign to reduce the social stigmas around poor mental health. It is a day to talk about mental health and to help anyone suffering to know that it is ok to ask for help.
Insurance broking is not immune to issues arising from poor mental health. Broking can be a pressurised environment driven by operating in a hard market, turbulent economic times, dipping service standards from insurers, clients under pressure, in-depth technical work, increased regulatory burden, the list goes on. When you couple these factors with broking businesses grappling with hybrid working, and having to work differently to ensure that everyone gets the support they need, there are some clear pinch points in terms of employee wellbeing.
The case for businesses investing in employee wellbeing, and having a defined ESG strategy, is now well understood. Employee wellbeing sits squarely within the ‘S’ of ESG. Absenteeism impacts productivity and costs a significant amount every year. Insurance broking business must invest time and money in a robust and effective employee wellbeing strategy which cuts across all areas of wellbeing.
Poor mental health has an impact on how people can show up at work, how they perform and how they contribute to the culture of the business through their interactions. It is in the interests of broking businesses to create an environment which has a positive impact on anyone suffering.
Challenging stigmas is one of the keys to unlocking some of our societal issues. We have come a long way in breaking down stigmas around mental health conditions, but there is still a long way to go. As a profession, insurance broking is making strides towards challenging stigmas. I would still suggest, however, that we have all heard phrases such as, “Why put a label on it?” and, “In my day you just got on with it”. Our medical understanding of mental health has evolved. The biological and physiological basis for many conditions are now better understood. These are not labels, they are names for what someone is coping with. There is also, now, a greater emphasis on supporting people who are suffering.
What can insurance brokers do to build a culture which enables conversations to be had around mental wellbeing? You can start by having some qualified mental health first aiders in your business. Have a wellbeing strategy as part of your overall business strategy. Have appropriate policies in place around sickness, wellbeing, and menopause. Consider offering workshops, alongside your technical training, which focus on employee wellbeing. Make your business a comfortable place for people to open up in. Lastly, and in some ways, most achievable, is to open your appraisal conversations with, “tell me about how you are feeling.” Sometimes, that is all someone needs to hear.