He ain’t heavy, He’s my brother…

Ask anyone what their first words are that come to mind when they hear ‘insurance’. It’s unlikely to be ‘heart’, ‘caring’ or ‘all about people’. However, there is one insurance company that places people at the core of their business, from the inside out.

When he saw a colleague and friend in trouble, Client Services Team Manager at MiWay, Motheo Makgoathane, responded with the instant, practical help needed. His action led to him being recognised as a Service Hero.

As a Client Services team lead, Motheo’s job is centred on helping clients; doing whatever it takes to solve any issues they might be having. The ethos of serving clients is strong at the company, he says, but in the Client Services team there’s a distinctly familial approach.

“We treat our clients like family, but we also see our colleagues as family too,” he says.

Since the company first opened its doors fourteen years ago, MiWay had a clear vision of becoming South Africa’s leading insurance partner which would demonstrate heart in the way it responded to clients’ needs. This heart would also become an integral part of the culture inside the business too, between colleagues.

In a drive to recognise and reward employees who embody the culture of caring and going the extra mile, MiWay recently launched an internal programme called Service Hero Awards, where employees nominate each other. Thanks to this initiative, Good Things Guy found out about Motheo’s story.

One day after work Motheo dropped by a colleague’s house, and when he arrived, it was clear that his colleague was not himself, and that something was weighing heavily on him. The colleague hinted that he had been taking strain in his home, and at the time, he was unable to pay their children’s caregiver her monthly salary.

“I put myself in his shoes and imagined how I might have felt if I was unable to take care of my own children, and I knew I had to step in and step up. This was more than a colleague to me, he’s my brother,” he says. Motheo quickly transferred a sum of money into his colleague’s account, and then drove him to an ATM to withdraw the cash needed for the caregiver. He also dropped off the caregiver at the nearest safe taxi pick-up spot.

Motheo credits the way he was brought up for giving him the outlook on life that led to the award. He explains that he grew up in a large family environment at his grandparents’ house with lots of cousins around him. His grandparents ran a small business hiring out tents, tables, chairs, and suchlike equipment for community events like weddings and funerals. But what made them remarkable was that when somebody needed their facilities for an important event but could not afford the cost, his grandparents would discuss the issue and, if they both agreed, made what was needed available for free.

“That taught me that you should be extending a helping hand when you can,” he says. “From my parents, I learned about humility and valuing what you have.” His mother practised as an Occupational Therapist, and so knew first-hand just how one’s life could change in an instant. And as an HR practitioner, his father’s career was all about helping people overcome their challenges and reach their potential. “My father was always there for me,” Motheo recalls fondly.

Motheo says he was surprised to discover his colleague had nominated him for a Service Hero Award: “I was really just helping out a brother,” he says. But he’s nonetheless energised by the award, saying that it recognises the fact that although he and his team’s job is client service, it’s important to remember that they spend a substantial amount of time with each other.

“Our colleagues are our second family,” he says. “In a family, we carry each other, especially at a time when you might not know what challenges or anxieties people may be experiencing in the work environment. I keep my Service Hero certificate on my desk as a reminder of the fact that we must never forget about each other. It’s also reminder of my father’s wise words: ‘In life, what you put in is what you get out.’”

The MiWay Service Heroes Awards were introduced to recognise staff who go to extraordinary lengths to help clients or show qualities of extraordinary humanness and servant leadership towards their colleagues and the company.

MiWay is a licensed non-life insurer and Financial Services Provider (FSP 33970).


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