Episode 104 — The Digital Broker Podcast

Great Days at Work: How They Happen, How To Keep Them Coming


On this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds and special guests Azia Hurley and Melissa Wilder recall the best days they’ve ever had at work. By listening to this episode, you will learn:

  • What a great day at an insurance agency looks like.
  • What makes a great day so powerful, capable of wiping out the stress of many previous bad days.
  • What the agency can do to help great days happen.

If bad days are due to a lack of appreciation, as we’ve established in the episode dedicated entirely to bad days, it follows that great days would be powered by extraordinary displays of appreciation, which is exactly the case. Asked about the best days of their careers, neither Azia nor Melissa bring up days when they were super productive or received large bonuses. Instead, they recall moments when they felt especially valued and appreciated.

Melissa recalls a time when she was crazy busy, working overtime every day of the week, just as she was getting ready to leave town to go see family. She was worried that the stress of work would follow her around and haunt her during what was supposed to be time off. But right before she left, she found a note on her desk from a coworker that read: I got this, go have fun, don’t worry about anything. That was several years ago. Melissa keeps the note to this day. “That was so selfless and sweet,” she says. “It meant a lot that a coworker would do that.”

On another occasion, Melissa’s agency was worried about losing an important account. The customer kept having issues that the agency seemed incapable of resolving. This time, it was Melissa’s turn to be the selfless employee. She reached out to the customer and volunteered as much of her time as needed to work out every issue. The customer was thankful, but the outlook on keeping the account was still dim—until the customer decided to renew it after all, citing Melissa’s efforts as the reason why. “I remember trying to do a cartwheel down the middle of the office—which was not very successful.”

Azia’s own story is similar. One day, a customer was having trouble with a carrier, so Azia spent the whole day with the carrier until the situation was resolved. The customer ended up writing an email to the agency’s president commending Azia’s dedication; Azia found out about it when the president shared the email with the whole team. “I have never felt so valued,” Azia says. “Sometimes, it feels like you have a lot of bad days, and then you have this good day that can really turn things around. When you don’t always feel 100% appreciated, a moment like that can really change the trajectory of your career.”

That’s the power of a great day: it can make up for several bad ones and restore an employee’s energy. What these stories also have in common is an element of simplicity. Neither Azia nor Melissa needed much to have a great day: a note, an email, a heartfelt compliment. But it was enough to make all the difference in the world. Agencies don’t need to drive themselves crazy trying to figure out how to engineer great days. But they do need to be strategic about how to make sure employees can and will have them.

It helps to have a culture of appreciation, like we’ve talked about on a previous episode. More specifically, you could designate employee appreciation days, where you put work on hold and get the whole team together to do something fun. This is a great way for employees to bond, so they can be there for each other in times of need, like Melissa’s note-writing hero.

You could also talk to your employees about what’s important to them. Figure out what they are passionate about, and try to put them in a position to do it. Everybody wants to feel like their work matters, and insurance, after all, is about helping people. “You have those days when you feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter,” Azia says. “But it does matter. You’re helping people with their livelihoods and businesses. You can save them a lot of money, you can give them better coverage, you can protect them against a major loss. Things like that remind you that what you do makes a difference.”

Bad days are still going to happen, no matter what. But if you cultivate a culture of appreciation and you give employees space to do their best work, great days are going to happen too. And when they do, they’ll be a lot more powerful than bad days.

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