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How to make it fun for you and your staff to go to the insurance office everyday– don’t forget the donuts!

Making the Office FunSo, you manage an insurance agency.  How are your days at the office going?  No, really…  Do your employees enjoy coming to work every day? Are they bored to tears?  Do they hate it altogether?

Work is… well, it’s work.  Work isn’t always fun and all of us who have been in the real world understand that there are times that we won’t love our jobs, but here’s a secret that successful insurance agents and their managers know:  Making work fun for your staff goes a long way towards productivity!

It’s been said that if you want to motivate the people who work for you, you have three options:  Pay them more, threaten them with something they fear, or make work fun.

I’m guessing that if you are like most insurance agents, option one may be no option at all, option two is an option that you cringe even thinking about, and the third option is sounding pretty darn good right about now.  Companies like Google, Edward Jones, and US Cellular employ dynamic organization models to keep their associates happy, healthy, and doing their bests for their employers, and as a result, those businesses are successful and people actually seek them out as workplaces.  If you want a job at Google, you’re going to wait in line behind the very best and brightest in the country and if you’re lucky enough to become one of them, you’re going to enjoy a lot of perks.

Of course, not every company can be Google, but your insurance agency has the potential to become a sought after place of employment, a place where people love to come, and an environment that is more productive and comfortable for you and your employees.

Here are some tried and true methods for making your insurance agency a fun place to work:

Build the right team.  Especially if you’re just starting out, consider the personalities of those people you plan to hire to work in your insurance agency.  Once you’re hired an employee, consider their character and personality as you hire others.  Folks who enjoy one another’s company are able to work together better and produce more, and the work environment becomes more pleasurable for everyone involved when the people who are working there are content with one another.

Take some time off together.  Schedule a day to play. Close the office early (or altogether) and spend some time doing something fun.  Go hiking, bowling, or on a picnic.  Rent a jet ski or two and head to the lake.  A single day “retreat” can go a long, long way when it comes to morale and team-building.  Your employees will get to know one another and bond during this “down time” and they’ll become a better adept and more successful team in the process.

Don’t worry about being professional all of the time.  Relax and enjoy time in the office.  Spend a few minutes conversing each morning over coffee before you begin the day, or take a break in the afternoon for a quick game of wastebasket hoops.  Ask about your staff members’ families and friends, what they did last weekend, and about their plans for any upcoming time off.  Be personal.  Be real.  You’ll find that relationships develop and everyone concerned is more at ease.

Be generous. As a leader of your insurance agency, do nice things for the people who work for and with you.  Bring in a box of donuts on Friday morning, spring for pizza during lunch on an especially busy day, surprise your receptionist with a nice new pen or flowers on Secretary’s Day, or give your sales staff small gifts for meeting and exceeding your expectations.  You don’t have to spend a fortune.  Small tokens of your appreciation to your insurance agency staff are certain to be appreciated.

Decorate.  An undecorated office is a cold and uncaring office, so make sure your insurance agency has some color.  Add a few well-placed pieces of art, some comfortable and fashionable furniture, and encourage photographs of families, friends, and community groups in your employees’ spaces.

Plan a field trip.  If there’s a conference or a trade show that pertains to your insurance agency’s business, take your staff to network with the folks in attendance and learn something new in the process.  If you have a potential new client who owns or operates an especially interesting business, take your employees for an afternoon tour.  Not only are you sure to make some new contacts, you will also break up the monotony of your employees’ workweek, and they are sure to enjoy a change of venue and being appreciated as important enough to be included in such outings.  Oh, and if you aren’t planning on providing transportation yourself for these little adventures, make sure you offer a gas card or mileage reimbursement so that your staff doesn’t incur any additional expense for the trip personally.

Celebrate individuals. If one of your insurance agency’s employees is having a birthday, make sure you bring the cake and invite everyone in the office to sign a card to send home with him or her.  If a staff member’s child is graduating or getting married, then offer a toast after work and a nice gift.  If someone does a great job with sales for the month, buy lunch for the office in that employee’s honor.  Not only will it make the celebrated individual feel great, it will encourage others to live up to high standards and perform even better.

Offer ownership in the office.  Your employees deserve your respect and letting your employees have a say, or at the very least, consulting them about even minor decisions that may have an impact on their workplace is not only considerate, it keeps them engaged in making certain that your insurance agency’s business is doing well.  Keep your team informed about what’s going on in the community and in the industries you serve so that they care more about why you do what you do– and understand your objectives when interacting with potential and current clients.

Let your staff know that work should end once normal business hours are over.  Dedicated employees have a tendency to work overtime, or even on their own time.  Make sure they know you value them enough that you also value their time off.  Make it clear that they should rarely, if ever, take work home, and that you are grateful if they ever do.  When you value your employees’ work-life balances, they appreciate you more and feel better understood.

If you really want to see heightened performance in your staff, it’s time to loosen up and have some fun.  Go ahead, start building a creative culture –and I can promise, you’ll start seeing really cool things happen.  After all, happy insurance agency employees are productive insurance agency employees… and their managers are happier and more prosperous, too.

If you’re an established insurance agent, let us know what you like to do to keep your employees happy and productive, and anything you may have tried that didn’t reap the results you set out for.   Thanks for sharing.