"Setting personal and professional boundaries is important"

Ridge Canada SVP on not getting too caught up in work

"Setting personal and professional boundaries is important"

Insurance News


Knowing how to properly implement a robust work/life balance is an essential part of avoiding the all-too-common effects of burnout, especially in a work from home setting.

“Setting personal and professional boundaries is important,” said Cindy Manek (pictured), Ridge Canada senior vice president of technology professional liability.

“It may not happen overnight, but the more comfortable you get in a role, the easier it becomes to create that balance your mental and physical wellbeing needs.”

During the “Fighting fatigue – How to remain on top of your game” panel at the Women in Insurance Toronto Conference this June, Manek will join two other participants and a moderator to discuss the various forms of burnout and their experiences with abating these overwhelming moments.

Ahead of the conference, Manek spoke with Insurance Business about how her years of remote work allowed her to separate professional and personal obligations. She also revealed why employers need to set reasonable expectations and the reason her male counterparts need to be informed about female underrepresentation in the industry.

“It gets very exhausting when you’re feeling like you’re always at work”

When COVID-19 hit and remote work became standardized, many people had a hard time adjusting to home office life. For some, having a setup in a domestic space created an increasingly tenuous relationship between the rigours of work and personal time.

Manek has been working from a remote setting for years, which has allowed her to experiment boundaries that respect her professional obligations without sacrificing her necessary downtime.

“When the pandemic hit, it was if people were now getting used to my reality,” she said. “However, I’ve had time to create that balance where work doesn’t impede on my life when I’m offline.”

To necessitate this divide, Manek devised and deployed certain physical parameters that have been helpful in keeping these two parts of her life separated.

“First off, I made sure I had a room with a door that would be my office, so when I step away at the end of a workday, I could close that door and shut off that part of my life for the rest of the evening,” she said.

Manek also has two phones, using one strictly to tend to her professional endeavours. “This way, if I’m out for dinner with friends or family, I won’t be bombarded with work emails that may cause my attention to drift,” she said.

“I think it gets very exhausting when you’re feeling like you’re always at work, and I don’t want that to impact my ability to socialize or recharge.”

 “Employers and other colleagues can’t expect you to always be on call”

Manek has experienced firsthand what it means to get carried away within a role, regardless of whether it is her fault or not.

“Sometimes there’s an internal pressure to take on extra duties in order to prove yourself and your capabilities,” she said. “Other times, there can be a staffing shortage that adds extra work to your queue, and you may feel an obligation to keep things running smoothly.”

“This can ignite a vicious cycle where your coworkers place those expectations on you subconsciously or not.”

As Manek matured in her career and realized the importance of prioritizing downtime, she felt less bad at cutting off her work time at a reasonable hour.

“I have never been told I am not working enough,” she said. “Really maximalizing productivity in my allotted eight hours is key to keeping things moving and not feeling distressed about responding to queries that are sent when I’m out of office the next morning.”

Furthermore, being fully immersed in a project or pulling in extra hours to complete assigned tasks should not be a choice at the expense of others.

“Just because others may be working past office hours, employers and other colleagues can’t expect you to always be on call,” she said,

Creating and sustaining a work culture that places a precedence on shutting off at the end of the workday is something that should be implemented at all levels of a company or organization to keep employees engaged and stimulated.

“More men need to hear about these statistics”

For Manek, participating in this panel presents an opportunity for herself and those in attendance to step outside of their profession for a moment and emphasize empathy.

“It will be a safe space for productive discussions,” she said. “We don’t often get many chances to have these, which makes any opportunity very special.”

While these events create opportunities for women to wax professional or speak more personally amongst one another, the harrowing truths about female underrepresentation in insurance needs a wider audience.

“I was recently a part of an all-female fireside chat that covered inadequacies in the industry,” Manek said.

“We as women understand this data since it is a reality. I think it is more beneficial that men get together and have conversations about these statistics, because I don’t think they necessarily know how bad it is.”

“It may seem ridiculous that in 2023 that we are still talking about this, but I think having these uncomfortable conversations will only emphasize the need for change holistically.”

Find out more about the Women in Insurance Toronto Conference now.

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