Over two-thirds of brokers have experienced some kind of mental health issue linked to work in the last 12 months, according to latest research by Ecclesiastical.
In its second annual Broker Wellbeing Survey, the specialist insurer found that brokers working for national networks are significantly more likely to experience a mental health issue than brokers working for regional and provincial brokerages.
Ecclesiastical launched the Broker Wellbeing Survey last year to encourage greater dialogue in the industry and help reduce the stigma about mental health issues in the workplace. Last year’s report found that one in five brokers had contemplated leaving the industry due to stress.
This year’s survey of 200 brokers found that stress continues to be the most commonly experienced mental health issue at work, affecting three in five brokers. This was followed by anxiety (37%) and feeling overwhelmed (34%).
Causes of stress
Workloads are the main contributor of stress at work, with four out of five brokers (82%) citing this. This rises to 98% of national brokers.
The volume of regulation and compliance (67%), customer demands (59%) and pressure to hit targets (56%) are the next main contributors.
How are brokers coping?
While over two-thirds of brokers say they have experienced a mental health issue at work in the last 12 months, almost all (98%) take no time off to deal with it.
This could be because the vast majority of brokers, nine in every 10, are confident they can recognise the signs of poor mental health in themselves and feel they have the tools and techniques to cope with everyday stresses.
Nearly three-quarters of brokers (71%) believe their organisation is committed to improving wellbeing in the workplace, while around the same number (69%) believe their organisation is supportive of people with mental health issues.
Three out of four brokers who have suffered a mental health issue said they felt able to report it to their manager. However, the majority (54%) did not as they felt able to cope with it.
When asked what measures their employer had introduced in the past 12 months to improve wellbeing in the workplace, the introduction of flexible working was the top response, with two in five firms introducing this change.
Guidance on how to deal with stress, counselling support and mental health awareness training for managers and staff were the next most popular. One in five brokers also mentioned the introduction of yoga and other healthy activities.
Awareness and understanding
The majority of brokers feel that awareness of mental health issues has increased in the industry over the past year.
Almost two in five said that people were generally more aware than before, 13% said they thought awareness was higher due to greater publicity in the trade press and on social media, while a number mentioned BIBA’s work to raise awareness of the issue.
However, understanding of mental health issues lags behind. Over a quarter of brokers (28%) think understanding is low even if we are more aware while 14% think it’s improving but there is a lot more to understand.
Adrian Saunders, commercial director at Ecclesiastical, said: “At Ecclesiastical, we’re committed to understanding what matters most to our brokers. Our Broker Wellbeing Survey has revealed that three in five brokers feel stressed at work, with workload being the main contributor which I’m sure won’t come as a great surprise to any of us.
“There are encouraging signs in our research that the issue of mental health is being taken more seriously. Nearly three-quarters of brokers believe their organisation is committed to improving wellbeing in the workplace and many businesses are making changes to improve wellbeing in the workplace. I’m pleased to see that awareness of mental health issues among brokers is high, thanks to media coverage and BIBA shining a spotlight on the issue. Our research suggests that understanding lags behind, but the industry is making positive strides towards real change.”
Ecclesiastical Insurance is committed to changing the conversation around mental health and supports a number of programmes to promote better mental wellbeing.
The insurer is working with Chris Moon, a former army officer, the first double amputee runner in an ultra-marathon across the Sahara and now an inspirational speaker who helps individuals and companies with a range of topics including mindfulness, change management and resilience. Together they are producing a series of films aimed at helping brokers recognise and manage stress in the workplace, due for release early next year.