Burnout – top executive on how to avoid it

Insurance companies can hit two birds with one strategy

Burnout – top executive on how to avoid it

Diversity & Inclusion

By Gia Snape

Insurance organizations that want to boost their talent recruitment game while also preventing employees from succumbing to the dreaded “b” word – burnout – should incorporate more flexibility into their strategy.

Marissa Jennings (pictured), southeast area executive at Zurich North America, said the subject of burnout was near and dear to her heart.

“It’s definitely something that I have experienced as a working mom,” said Jennings, who has two daughters under the age of three.

“This juggling act of work and home life with two small daughters. Coming through the pandemic, I’ve seen the toll on teams and the turnover from a talent perspective.”

Learning to say “no” has been key to helping Jennings navigate the added responsibilities of motherhood and the challenging work dynamics of the pandemic.

“Setting boundaries is easier said than done, but I’ve had to be very thoughtful around anything extra I want to take on,” the executive said.

“I want to be able to get home in the evenings at a reasonable time to be with my family, sometimes, that means looking at my calendar to see if I really need to be at a certain meeting or trip.”

How can the insurance industry prevent burnout among women?

Jennings is among the insurance leaders set to lead panel discussions at the forthcoming Women in Insurance Atlanta summit. Set for March 2, 2023, the in-person event is dedicated to empowering women and allies to make new connections, discover new ideas, and be inspired to advance their insurance careers.

Apart from flexible work arrangements, providing strong mentorship and additional resources can also help working women balance their work life.

“When I returned from maternity leave, I specifically reached out to other women in the company asking, ‘How are you doing this?’” Jennings said.

“They were able to give me bits of advice and things to think about or do different. I think providing community for people and safe environments to have conversations about work-life balance is important.

“Zurich has also done a phenomenal job with creating flexibility for working parents, and support and mental health resources for teams.”

Like many organizations, Zurich has adapted to a hybrid work scheme. While Jennings acknowledges there are drawbacks to the set-up, she said it’s difficult to see the workplace returning to the way it was pre-pandemic.

“There are some people who love being in the office. I think there are benefits to being together, such as more collaboration, creativity, and the ability building teams,” she told Insurance Business.

“But I would be surprised to see a return to five full days back into the office. People like the flexibility, and with the talent crunch today, I would be surprised to see a lot of companies taking a hard stance on that.”

Flexitime, a four-day work week, and other strategies

Could workdays be allowed to look more different in the post-pandemic world? Flexitime (when an employee chooses when to stop and start work, with some limits) and job share (when two part-time employees split a full-time role) arrangements are also entering the conversation on flexible working, as people seek more autonomy over their work-life balance.

Jennings is also interested in seeing where discussions on a four-day work week would progress. A recent global pilot on the four-day scheme showed that companies experienced higher sales, lower burnout and fatigue, and higher overall employee happiness with just one less day at work.

“Recently, a CEO of a smaller mutual carrier mentioned that they're going be testing out the four-day work scheme this summer to encourage people to have longer weekends, and to see if this can help recruit talent into the organization,” Jennings said.

“More flexibility and providing women with more part-time options in leadership roles are critical. I think it would be a game changer for women who want to continue their career but also be able to be with their families. I think that there's a lot of opportunity to tap into some, some talent that way, too.”

Women in Insurance Atlanta returns with an agenda-packed conference in 2023. Join fellow insurance professionals for a day of networking and incisive discussions about the most pressing issues in the industry.

Related Stories

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!