21 May 2021
In Honor of Mental Health Awareness Month: Taking Care of Business Means Taking Care of Yourself
May is Mental Health Awareness Month—which makes this the perfect time to tackle a topic that many of us are facing right now: priority overload.
As business continues to rebound, it’s normal to want to make up for lost work time. However, whether we acknowledge it or not, we’re still recovering from the trauma of last year. Studies show that mental health in the workplace is at an all-time low. For those already struggling with burnout, anxiety and/or depression, piling on more pressure at work only makes things worse.
While this is a delicate topic, your well-being is incredibly important, not just to you, but to your family and friends, to your colleagues and organization, to everyone in your circle.
That’s why it’s worthwhile to give yourself a quick status check. How are you doing? Do you feel like you’re in control of your workday? How is your mindset impacting your work performance, and vice versa? As you give this important subject some thought, here’s a few things in mind.
Wrestling with Priority Overload
Many professionals are suffering from priority overload right now—and yes, that includes producers, agents and brokers. No one is exempt. Perhaps you’re spreading yourself too thin, trying to ramp up in every direction at once…and putting both your health and performance at risk in the process.
If every workday is a blur of activity, but you’re still not accomplishing what you’ve set out to, you may be dealing with priority overload.
Try as we might, it’s impossible to balance multiple, equally-weighted priorities. The solution is to rank those priorities in order of true importance. A recent Gallup workplace study suggests that the key to doing so—for individuals and organizations—is to go back to basics and reconfirm your core mission and purpose.
We’re all in business to make a living. But for many producers, it’s also essential to serve their clients exceptionally well—educating them, matching them to the right products, being there at claim time.
Refocusing on your business priorities can help you take back control of your workday. It will help you spend your time and energy on essential activities and put aside those that can wait.
The same rules apply on the agency management level. If your people are frazzled and overworked, but results aren’t where they should be, your organization may have collective priority overload, and it’s up to you to step in.
That means refocusing on your agency’s purpose and priorities—and making sure your people know what those are. (Research indicates employers shouldn’t take this for granted.) This process will help your people focus on what really matters. You’ll not only see happier, less-stressed employees, but a more productive workforce.
5 Ways Agency Managers Can Foster Mental Health in the Workplace
Studies show that up to two-thirds of employees hide their mental health issues at work. Agency Managers can help their people deal with these problems in a number of ways, including:
- Make sure your employees understand their mental health benefits and know how to access your employee assistance program. If your programs are lacking, take steps to enrich those benefits and make access easier.
- To the degree that you can, offer your employees flexible work schedules and continued remote work options, with an emphasis on maintaining work/life balance.
- Consider offering employees access to stress-reduction training or meditation classes.
- Make sure your people use up all their annual vacation time.
- Regularly ask your people how they’re doing. If you see someone is struggling, don’t watch silently—quietly ask how you can help.
5 Ways Busy Producers Can Nurture Mental Health
For agents, the simple act of prioritizing business activity will help reduce workday stress. In addition:
- Set aside time and space to relax and do things you enjoy, alone and with those who matter to you.
- Unplug from technology before the end of the day. Let the world turn without you for a while.
- Make sleep a priority. It seems basic, but lack of deep sleep can aggravate mental and physical health issues.
- Rather than shrug it off, acknowledge when something is worrying or bothering you. Try to identify its true source, so you can address it.
- Seek help if you need it. Maybe you need some stress management coaching or help achieving a healthier lifestyle. You might start by scheduling a check-in with your doctor. Take the first step.
One Priority Leads to Another
Contrary to popular opinion, taking time out to address issues like burnout and anxiety won’t hurt productivity—it will ultimately improve it. Workplace research shows that 86% of workers who received treatment for depression improved their performance, while reducing absenteeism and presenteeism by 40-60%.
In short, while it may seem counterintuitive, the best way to safeguard the health of your business is to take care of the people running it—including (and starting with) yourself.