As an insurance agency, we are deemed an essential business. As employers, we want to ensure we do our very best to protect our employees in this uncertain time. Due to COVID-19, and the recommendations from our Washington state governor, in March, we shifted our entire staff to begin serving our clients remotely. That means we have been working remotely for quite a few weeks. Technology has allowed us to make this transition well, but it has its challenges. Let’s discuss.
As a team of 21 professionals, we now fully rely on the following tools to communicate both internally and with our clients. Here are some of the resources we use daily: e-mail, phone, text, Microsoft Teams, Facebook, Zoom, Webex, BlueJeans, phone…
I have known for years that if you break down communication, we communicate 7% with the words we use. We communicate 38% with our voice tone. We communicate 55% with our body language. When reviewing the list of modes of communication that we use today, our ability to connect with others using our body language is not fully there as that is only available with real IN-PERSON communication.
Since we have been working remotely what do we not do anymore? Meet in person, shake hands, look someone directly in the eye and communicate. We as humans are social beings and as such the isolation caused by COVID-19 is having impacts on the workforce from a mental health standpoint.
A study by Blind finds the following statistics regarding workers staying at home due to COVID-19:
- 56.4% of professionals are experiencing signs of anxiety
- 57% of professionals are fearful of being laid off
These are just a small sampling of data points collected by this independent survey company. As business owners and leaders, this is something that MUST be considered and proactively addressed. As an agency, we have taken the following steps to do our best to support our employees in this very difficult time:
- While maintaining social distancing, owners have taken dinner to each team member and their family
- Scheduled Zoom meetings within the team and sub teams- some focused on the business at hand, others focused JUST on people and their well-being
- Individual phone calls to check in on team members and encouraging others to connect with others on the team
- With an employee retiring during this pandemic, we organized a car parade with ALL employees meeting and decorating cars together while maintaining social distancing
- Continuing to CELEBRATE birthdays and work anniversaries. Singing on a Zoom meeting is terribly uncoordinated but it will be remembered
- Communicating weekly the company plan on reopening and trying to provide as much certainty in a very uncertain time
David Kessler, author and grief expert said in a CNN interview, “Virtual connection is never going to make up for real touch, for real presence, but it’s the best thing we have right now, so it’s so important to do something, instead of nothing.”
This pandemic has caused us to look inward and focus even more on our employees who continue to be our most valued asset. As employers, we must slow down. Take time to thank our teams, spread some kindness and check in on each of your employees. No, I’m not talking about their workload, or the latest changes to an important client file, but how they are, how their families are doing, new hobbies they’re learning or shows being watched. This type of support goes a long way. My wish to each of you is to continue to stay safe and stay calm in this challenging time!
Tony Johnson is a Certified Insurance Councilor (CIC) specializing in risk management for the business and non-profit community and can be reached at Davidson & Associates Insurance, 360-514-9550 or Tony@Davidsoninsurance.com.