Choice CEO: In support of a mentally healthy broking industry

The Christmas break is often a time of reflection, a chance for all of us to reflect on the previous year and set goals and resolutions for the year ahead.

At Choice Aggregation, we’re encouraging brokers to incorporate a mental health check into their business planning process and to look at how they can better look after themselves, their staff and colleagues.

An industry in flux

If there’s one thing most brokers have in common, it’s that they work hard and spend a great deal of time working – whether that’s in the office, on the road visiting clients or from a home office.

In addition to running a business and creating satisfied clients, brokers also need to keep pace with a broad range of industry-wide changes – from regulatory updates to shifts in clients’ expectations – which are bringing both challenges and opportunities.

At Choice Aggregation, we’re passionate about helping brokers and we are committed to raising awareness about the importance of mental health, building resilience and looking out for each other.

We know that everyone reacts differently to change, which is why we have implemented a range of initiatives to support brokers’ mental health in the workplace.

The benefits of good mental health

First, let’s take a look at why mental health is so important.

According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is a state of wellbeing in which every individual can realise his or her potential, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully and contribute to his or her community.

There is a growing body of evidence that shows that workplaces can play an important and active role in maintaining the mental health and wellbeing of workers. Doing so can also bring a number of benefits for businesses, including reduced absenteeism, and greater productivity and engagement. In other words, good mental health and wellbeing is good business.

Recent research released by Superfriend, a national mental health organisation that partners with the superannuation and insurance industries, confirms this. Superfriend’s 2019 edition of Indicators of a Thriving Workplace found that employers who invest in mentally healthy workplaces see clear business benefits, including increased employee productivity, reduced levels of sickness and absenteeism, as well as increased employee retention.

Research by Monitor Deloitte has also indicated a $4.20 return for every $1 invested in workplace mental health.

Protecting your own mental health

Research shows almost one in two Australians (45%) will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, with one in six experiencing mental ill health right now.

In an industry that is service-led, brokers are often commended for putting client needs first. However, it is also important for brokers to take care of their own needs in order to stay mentally healthy. A key part of this is putting time in the diary to spend with friends and family, carving out personal time such as time to exercise and maintaining a positive mindset.

For brokers who are experiencing stress or mental health issues, it is important to reach out for help – whether that is from your aggregator, friends or family, or a professional organisation.

Providing brokers with mental health assistance has been a key area of focus for Choice Aggregation in recent years and we now offer a range of support services.

These include a Broker Hotline for brokers, their staff and their families; and opportunities for brokers to support each other through networking, discussions groups and peer-to-peer learning. Mental health is also an important part of our professional development program and this year we have conducted sessions on mindfulness, resilience and overcoming obstacles.

Reach out to others

Of course, it’s not always easy to recognise if our mental health is suffering, so it is also important for the broking community to be aware of the signs that someone might need help.

Choice Aggregation recently teamed up with R U OK? a prominent non-profit suicide prevention organisation, which advocates for people to connect and have regular, meaningful conversations.

Some of the ways R U OK? suggests brokers can support each other include looking out for behavioural changes in each other. Is your colleague experiencing mood swings, irrational behaviour, confusion or an inability to switch off, for example? If so, take the initiative and ask them ‘R U OK?’ Grab a coffee, a beer or go for a walk together – whatever way you can find to really connect and have a meaningful chat.

Mental health and suicide prevention are everyone’s responsibility. Whether you are a broker, lender, customer or staff member, we are all people who need to take care of each other. Make 2020 the year you make mental health your priority.