Our role is to support you and to help you grow your business. It’s not a responsibility we take lightly.
From technology, marketing, advocacy at regulator and government level, and compliance — we do what we can to ensure you’re best placed to leverage the many opportunities in front of you to best nurture and grow your business.
Something somewhat outside our remit, but something we think is really important to mention, is the importance of mental health in the workplace.
We are not experts in this space and do not pretend to be. There are, however, a host of Australian businesses and online resources you can go to, to learn more about the importance of mentally healthy workplaces. We believe we have a responsibility to raise awareness of mental health issues within our industry and to be the conduit in pointing you towards the right places if you, someone you work with, or one of your clients is in need.
It’s such a common term we hear so often, but it is sometimes misunderstood or confused or substituted for a raft of specific mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia. The World Health Organisation defines mental health as ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’
We’d describe it as being happy, about wellness rather than illness, and about enjoying and making the most out of the short life we have. It’s about being well enough emotionally, socially and cognitively to make positive differences to ourselves and those around us.
As brokers, you’re such an important pillar of society — the go-to for so many Australians. With over 53% of Australian consumers choosing to use a mortgage broker when arranging their home finance, you’re often the first port of call when a client needs finance. As a result, you’re often the first port of call when something on the finance front goes wrong for them.
You’re in this business as you thrive on helping people find the right solutions, and you enjoy the thrill of winning when it comes to happy clients. The reality is that this is a fast paced, dynamic and ever-changing landscape and that can have its downsides if not managed right.
Lender appetites, policies and products change all the time. While this breeds great competition, it also can see you struggle from time to time in finding the right finance solution for your client, or in some cases not being able to find finance at all. From application to settlement any number of things can happen and not being able to fulfil a client’s need and being the bearer of bad news can be tough, particularly when there is a lot at stake for them.
There may also be a stage in your own business or personal life where something negative happens, perhaps even on your own finance front. Even if this is a small setback, the stress you may feel could be amplified given your extensive experience, you may be too hard on yourself.
All of these things can very easily lead to poor mental health and potentially a mentally unhealthy workplace.
On the positive side, knowing what can help constitute a mentally healthy workplace is also as important. Positive mental health in the workplace sees your team be more productive and happier to be at work which can lead to better client experience, less staff turnover, and of course a healthier bottom line.
Creating a mentally healthy workplace is a good thing to do, and it’s not hard. There are a host of online resources to help you in the right direction. Most of them revolve around the creation of a positive work culture, solid management of stress and other risks to mental health, support systems for those with mental health conditions, and a zero tolerance approach to discrimination.
The brilliant beyondblue website tells us that over one million Australians live with depression, and over two million have anxiety. At any given time, around one in five Australians are experiencing a mental health condition, with beyondblue also estimating that around 45% of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. They also state that even given the fact anxiety and depression can be as debilitating as a serious physical illness, less than half of the people experiencing these conditions seek help.
As a significant player in the SME space, with well over 10,000 brokers in Australia with countless staff, there is every likelihood you’ve already faced a mental health related issue yourself, or within your own workplace.
Things to look for as warning signs on the physical front include fatigue, muscular tension, headaches, heart palpitations, and sleeping difficulties such as insomnia. On the psychological front, they can include depression, anxiety, discouragement, irritability, pessimism, inability to concentrate or just feeling overwhelmed. Behaviourally, watch out for an increase in sick days or absenteeism, aggression, drops in work performance, problems with interpersonal relationships and things like a lower tolerance of frustration and impatience.
What do I need to know, and what could I be doing?
If you’re keen to know more and to know what goes into developing a mentally healthy workplace, take better care of your own mental health or get tips on how to help someone you may be concerned about, below are some of our favourite sites and resources.
beyondblue and Heads Up are a couple of the best. Some of the great tools they house include checklists you can run through yourself or with someone you know to find out if you’re at risk, guides, online forums, case studies, links to professionals, helplines, and ways to volunteer, support or help partner with either organisation.
- Depression and anxiety
- Mental health conditions and the workplace
- Your own mental health
- What to look out for in others
- Approaching someone you’re concerned about
- Legal obligations
- Services and support
- Creating a mentally healthy workplace
- Managing performance concerns
- Staff disclosing their mental health condition
- Small business owners speaking in their own words about their own experiences and advice on how to overcome challenges.
Over on the Heads Up website you can find thorough information on:
- Mental health in the workplace
- Tips for creating a mentally healthy workplace and critical success factors
- Workplace bullying
- Mental health in small business
- Case studies
- Taking care of yourself at work
- Anxiety and depression
- Managing stress at work
- Working with a mental health condition
- Talking about mental health at work
- Supporting others in the workplace
- Rights and responsibilities
Healthy minds, healthy business
With 2,975 AFG brokers across Australia, we’re a pretty diverse bunch, each one of us is unique. But at the end of the day we really all strive for the same simple things; good health, financial stability, happiness in ourselves and those around us, security, and ultimately a better world tomorrow. Without positive mental health, you can see how some of these things all of a sudden become hard to achieve.
Yes, the health of your business is important to us, but your health and your mental health are too. We trust some of the pointers here and resources will go some way, either today or tomorrow, in helping you stay mentally healthy and best position yourselves to help those around you.