What's the secret to happiness at work? Palomar exec shares "tricks of the trade"

Three techniques will help lead to long-lasting satisfaction at work and at home

What's the secret to happiness at work? Palomar exec shares "tricks of the trade"

Diversity & Inclusion

By Gia Snape

Collective burnout is reshaping the global work landscape. The Great Resignation and quiet quitting are just a few buzzwords that define the crisis as people grapple with ever-growing workloads. But the outlook is worse for working women, who still juggle most responsibilities at home.

A Deloitte study points to a “burnout epidemic” for women. Nearly 8 in 10 said their workloads have increased since COVID-19, and job satisfaction has tanked so significantly that many are considering exiting the workforce.

While systemic change is badly needed, women also have the power to improve their coping skills. It’s all about creating a sustainable approach to how you move through life, according to Angela Grant (pictured), chief legal officer at Palomar.

Grant will bring her perspective on cultivating a sustainable professional life to the Women in Insurance summit in San Francisco on October 4. Her talk will highlight the importance of presence and mindfulness amidst the busy lives that insurance leaders often lead.

“I picked this topic because I’ve picked up some good tricks of the trade throughout my career to help me navigate and have easier days,” said Grant. She explained that women often take on additional and unnecessary burdens as they respond to work and home pressures.

“Sometimes, when you’re the only woman [in a work setting], you tend to accommodate the men in the room. You’re not the first to speak, tend not to disagree, and always seek agreement and collaboration, regardless of what the other folks are doing. Your voice is lost in the conversation or not heard at all,” Grant explained.

But this shouldn’t be the case. “I don’t think you should have to make any adjustments or accommodations,” Grant pointed out. Accommodation can also look like doing more than one’s fair share of things at home or work, which is why good partnerships are paramount to thriving.

“Women have a right to have full careers and raise a family. You can do both, but you need a good partnership. Making smart choices about who you partner with, who you raise children with, who is going to be a good boss for you, is important,” continued Grant.

Before Palomar, Grant was chief legal and innovation officer at CSE Insurance Group. She was also previously head of compliance and legal at Hippo Insurance. In addition to her legal and compliance background, Grant held past leadership roles at Esurance, Kemper, and GEICO, where she burnished credentials in mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, and strategy.

Grant said that presence, courage, and mindfulness have helped her find lasting satisfaction throughout her career.

“One great practice of mine is if I’m at work, I focus on work. If I’m at home, I focus on home,” she shared. “If I’m in a strategy session, I actively listen. I’m present, so I can connect with people around me, and we can strategize and collaborate to develop the best solution.”

Presence is also the key to sustaining one’s energy for the long term. “When you are too far in the past regretting yesterday, or too far in the future worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, you miss the present moment, which is where you can be your best self. When you stay present, that’s sustainable,” Grant said.

Leaders should also be comfortable with using their voices and saying “no” to overwhelming workloads, which takes courage. Women should also not seek permission to express their thoughts or opinions in the boardroom.

But courage also means using one’s voice to advocate for other people. “We are fuller in our lives when we are connected to other folks and when we help one another. Having a spirit of service is another form of courage,” added Grant.

As for mindfulness, Grant said it’s as simple as slowing down and taking a few deep breaths during the day. Taking a break from the mental load of mounting tasks and responsibilities can be beneficial.

Grant explained: “It’s about taking a moment, stepping back, then getting back to it. It could be taking a walk, stretching, reading a book, listening to music… all those things are practices that can sustain you on your bad days and improve your good days.”

Her number-one practical tip for women leaders? Do weekly check-ins with yourself. “It’s an opportunity to check in and see how you’re doing because if you’re not doing well internally, it will come out in your external environment and affect you in ways you may not see for years to come,” she said.

“How is my week going? Do I feel overwhelmed, or do I feel balanced? If I’m feeling overwhelmed, what’s causing the stress?” Grant asked. If stress comes from the home, men and women should be ready to open conversations about what needs to be adjusted to create more balance.

“If it’s work, evaluate what you have to do that week, do the most important things, and leave the rest,” she advised.

The Women in Insurance summit in San Francisco takes place on October 4 at the JW Marriott Union Square.

For more and to register for this event, please visit sanfrancisco.ibwomenininsurance.com.

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