Whether we want to admit it or not, our agencies and everything around us looks a little different with the swift and unpredictable takeover of coronavirus or COVID-19. There is no telling how long this will last and what the full impact will be, but one thing is for sure, we will not soon forget the Pandemic of 2020. Businesses are temporarily shutting doors, schools are closed, extracurricular activities are postponed until further notice, and “social distancing” is keeping many of us at home and alone. How do we navigate this change in reality that came out of nowhere and keep an agency running?
- Be Empathetic – There is a varying number of opinions out there on this topic, which could be debated all day long. However, this type of conversation is not helpful. Recognizing that employees are going to respond differently with differing levels of concern is critical. Being empathetic amid uncertainly is vital. Listen to employees without judgment, address concerns, and work together to find solutions.
- Educate Your Team – Employees will undoubtedly get calls from clients concerned about the impact of coronavirus and where insurance may apply. Make sure employees have as much information as possible on this topic and share any new details that may come up. Ensuring that employees are as prepared as possible for those conversations will help them effectively communicate with clients as questions arise and reduce some of the stress during this time.
- Plug in at Home – Pandemic or not, your agency still has clients that need and deserve quality service each and every day. If “social distancing” is shutting offices or keeping employees at home for any reason, there are options beyond being left short-staffed. Unlike other service-oriented businesses, like coffee shops, the insurance industry has the advantage of being able to operate regardless of where employees may be located. The idea of remote work is not new. The option or requirement to work from home has been part of the insurance industry for years. The technology that provides this capability is readily available. Putting readily available tools to work will allow your employees to continue working and serving clients. Meaning the agency wins despite any isolation that may become necessary.
- Keep Everyone Connected – If you’ve been accustomed to the office environment where everyone sees one another every day, transitioning to remote working can feel foreign for you and your employees. However, there are ways to stay connected even though you cannot walk down the hall and see your team. Daily team calls are a great way to make sure everyone is getting connected despite being apart. Better yet, if webcams are available, get everyone on a video conference. It may seem a bit awkward at first, but it gets easier and provides that sense of face to face contact that the team is used to having each day. Tools like Zoom and Go To Meeting provide conference calling options.
The reaction and measures taken to reduce the spread of this pandemic are new to everyone. Using this as an opportunity to show empathy, give your employees the choice to work in environments that feel safest, and continuing to provide great service to clients helps create small wins in a tough situation.