AFG has announced that it will expand its Employee Assistance Program to include all of their brokers in an attempt to help the channel to cope with the mental health demands of the ongoing lockdowns.
With all of the East Coast currently in lockdown, the support could be vital for brokers who are enduring restrictions while also trying to deal with a workload that is as high as it has ever been.
AFG has teamed up with Mind&Matter Australia, a mental health charity, to help deliver the new expanded scheme.
“It’s something that we’ve picked up on in the last 12 months,” said David Bailey, CEO of AFG. “There’s stress that brokers are experiencing from increased workload, slower turnaround times and obviously the various lockdowns.”
“We’re conscious that mental health is an important aspect of all Australian’s lives, and that’s why we thought of what we could do to help our brokers and assist at a time when they might need the help. If you’re in lockdown and isolated, you need someone to talk to, we’re offering a service for them to access.”
Brokers are run off their feet like never before, as house prices rise, refinancing hits record levels and, of course, broker market share continue to soar. While it is good that the broker channel is busier than ever, that can take a toll on mental health.
“There’s no off switch, and that’s the problem,” said Bailey. “Usually, we do have that: we can go play sports, meet with friends or go out to dinner. Particularly at the moment when we’re in lockdown or a reduced environment, those outlets don’t exist and the pressure does build.”
“Anyone who has been in lockdown will find that there is no off switch. The ability to talk, help and provide strategies to help deal with situations is beneficial for all.”
Bailey’s tip for brokers was to know their limits and manage expectations.
“Work out what you can and can’t do. Try and be disciplined around ensuring that you spend time with your family, and do try and turn off. It’s very difficult with customers – and brokers are so customer-centric – to try and turn off. But sometimes you just need to.”
“My number one tip would be increase levels of communication, either via telephone or Zoom or the like, but also make sure that you don’t find yourself trapped in an environment where you’re constantly working.”
“Look for outlets, whether that be a walk or some Netflix time, to try and unplug – as difficult as that might sound.”
AFG brokers will be notified of how they can avail of the new scheme in the coming week.