January 13, 2021 by Adam Malik
Brokers of all stripes have been especially taxed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s especially important to make the time to find opportunities to take a break, advised a national brokerage leader.
Tina Osen, president of Hub International Canada, says brokers need to put value into finding the time to step away from the daily grind of their jobs.
She includes herself in that group, making sure she sticks to her vacation routine of taking off one week every few months.
“I personally have always been somebody who has carved out at least a week a quarter for as long as I can remember because I’ve always felt that I go, go, go — and then I need to find that time to recharge my batteries,” she told Canadian Underwriter.
Brokers have told Canadian Underwriter that they feel they have been working essentially 24/7 since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which was officially declared by the World Health Organization in March of last year. Be it fielding calls from personal line customers about pandemic relief measures or working with commercial clients to find coverage in tightening markets, rarely have there been opportunities for brokers to take extended breaks.
Osen acknowledged that challenge and the fact that it’s hard to find time to take off these days due to customer demands. Instead, brokers may have to think of taking smaller breaks as opposed to the longer ones they may be used to, she recommended.
“It’s really hard. Especially on the property/casualty side right now because it’s still really, really hard to place business. I feel that. It’s hard for people to pull away because they’re worried about even taking care of their customers and finding the coverage,” Osen said. “So if you can’t get the week break, can you find some long weekends? So do different things to try and find that time.”
One suggestion she made was to have broker teams work together on figuring out a vacation schedule — work with colleagues to co-ordinate who will be off when and get someone to help your clients while you’re off.
“Our teams are working non-stop — those that are involved in placement and dealing with our customers commercially to find solutions for them. Absolutely, it is tiresome and it’s easy to cause burnout,” Osen said. “It’s also about how do you [find] support around having backup plans with colleagues or co-workers, that can cover you while you find some time for a break and vice versa. It’s not easy right now.”
Adding to the challenge is the fact that most brokers moved to a work-from-home model in March. Finding that division of work and home can be challenging, especially where there are limited options when it comes to getting away due to the pandemic.
“What’s fascinating about right now is many of our teams are working from home, so you don’t have that separation,” Osen observed. “And on top of it, you go, ‘Okay I’m going to take a week off. And then what am I going to do? I can’t go out for dinner. I can’t go to my friend’s house.’”
It’s a matter of finding ways to fill the days so to not think about work while at home. It’s tough, she acknowledged, but there needs to be that separation between work and home. “I know that for my own mental wellbeing and how I will serve others, having some space from [from work] will actually make me healthier, more effective in the job.”
Feature image by iStock.com/shironosov