The Blog Spot: Kicking things off

Editorial Blog Spot: Sian Barton

Editor, Siân Barton, considers how the insurance space has launched into 2020 and looks back to a thread from 2019 that should be picked up again this year.

There was no slow beginning for 2020.

As often happens the first days back in the office following the luxury of a Christmas and New Year break have seen deals and people moves hitting the headlines. The Christmas Dinner and New Year hangover already seem far away.

Notably, Jon Hancock has announced his intention to leave Lloyd’s in 2020 and Amanda Blanc has revealed a suite of NED appointments.

In addition brokers have been busy with Gallagher completing its Capsicum Re 100% ownership deal.

The consolidators have also been active with Global Risk Partners creating a Midlands hub with its buy of Birrell Group

These things along with the staggering number of insurers going into run-off or putting lines into run-off has made the start of the year a dynamic one.

But I don’t just want to look at the now. I also want to look back. Specifically, at one issue.

Feedback
Last year, following a personal piece about mental health, I received lots of private feedback from people in positions of power in the insurance world.

In the piece, for those who missed it, I discussed my problems with depression and anxiety and how the Insurance Age management made recovery a much easier process.

One of the things I called for was for more people at the top to open up and talk about their own experience.

Mental illness is common. Most people work through it. Why not open up the conversation and make it easier for people to address?

My idea was that if the bigwigs opened up too it might make it easier for more people to speak of, confront, address and ultimately begin to attack problems.

Maybe I was too ambitious? Perhaps I have missed some key pieces of coverage but so far, crickets…

This isn’t just about fluff and pandering to ‘snowflakes’ it is about real change and in the workplace that means helping people be comfortable and happy and more productive. Developing a mental health strategy has been proven to help the bottom line.

Public
Yes, people are talking about mental health in general terms, which is great too, but what I haven’t seen much of is leaders publicly discussing their own problems, how they overcame them, and how they impacted work and the solutions their employers put in place. I’d be happy to be proved wrong on this point so if you’ve spoken up please get in touch.

Of course, there are some I do know about. For example, Action365 and Freedom Services Group founder Sam White has been very vocal on the subject of her own anxiety. We even did a podcast about it (Human Business with Sam White which can be found via Google) which I think, rather than being an emotional confessional, was a constructive chat.

There is other good work being done too. For example, The British Insurance Brokers’ Association has developed some mental health training courses designed for its broker members – a brilliant and practical step forward.

Future
Insurance Age will also be doing a lot more work around this issue in 2020. Look out for an announcement on Monday (incidentally Blue Monday, aka the most depressing day of the year), about a special project…

The hope is that following this opinion and Monday’s launch we will see more of you talking about this, implementing change and, crucially, speaking on personal experience with the ultimate aim of helping develop happier staff and more productive businesses.

Siân Barton is editor of Insurance Age.

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