Training for the Resiliency Mindset

Originally Published in AM Best in April 2017

Last month, I wrote about the importance of training Millennials in the behaviors that will allow them a satisfying career built on strong professional relationships.  This month, I want to focus on a particular mindset that will be necessary for the coming years for anyone in our industry. In the insurance industry, we pride ourselves on the work/life balance that we offer to employees.  We point to the generous vacation and holiday packages, wellness programs that are a part of our benefits packages, and the ability to volunteer during work hours. While these programs and benefits are appreciated and increase employee satisfaction, I believe we also need to start training employees in skills that will help them feel less stress on the job and after hours, too!  I believe that teaching employees a resilient mindset will help us to retain Millennials. A resilient mindset allows one to approach a challenge with mental fortitude and rebound more quickly from setbacks. There are a few reasons that now is the time we should focus on this:

  1. Automation & Changing Roles in the Industry

Many employees have been doing work the same way for years in our industry.   As we manage our way through the improvements and efficiencies that updating our technology brings, it is important to recognize the stress and angst that this can cause to employees.  

  1. Insurtech

While Insurtech is exciting and will likely improve the industry.  Fear around the impact it will have on employees’ livelihood creates excess anxiety.

2. The Pace of Change

As the insurance industry increasingly recognizes that we must compare ourselves not only to other insurance companies but to the Amazons and the Ubers of the world, the pace of change will continue to increase.  Our customers do no delineate between an experience with an insurance company’s website and a retailer’s website. They will expect top of the line experience from us. This will require being able to iterate faster than we have in the past.  In addition to consumers, agents and employees will expect the same. However, that pace of change is tough to keep up, and it can be exhausting to keep track of everything that is changing. Resilience is the skill that will allow you to adapt continuously without burning out.


3. The Increased Competitive Nature of the Industry

Personally, when I was working in a call center pursuing my MBA, with my CPCU and years of experience as an office manager, I interviewed 4-5 times for underwriting roles.  Keeping my chin up and believing that I would eventually get the role I wanted was challenging. As we look at those who we are hiring, they are more educated than employees of past generations.  In the past, it was common for CPCUs not to hold a college degree; this is virtually unheard of now. Our employees will be competing with each other for jobs more often, and the competition will be fierce as everyone tries to take on professional development to make the best career they can.

On a daily basis, people new to the insurance industry are faced with the challenge of learning the complexities and intricacies of the work that we do.  If they have not developed resilience, the stress of the day to day work can be overwhelming. This skill would benefit employees who are not new to the industry, as well.  These changes and factors I’ve mentioned will cause stress across the workforce. Hosting workshops and seminars to teach employees some skills to build this strength will help to prevent burnout in the company and lead to more engaged employees who do better work and have more fulfilling careers and personal lives.

About Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham began her insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. She got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how she fell in love with the industry. She saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. When Carly moved to Des Moines in 2010, she decided to commit to the industry, and she completed her CPCU in one year finishing it in 2012 and attending commencement in New Orleans. She completed her MBA at Iowa State University in 2014. During this time, she and Tony founded a Gen Y Associate Resource Group at Nationwide in Des Moines. After they had both left Nationwide, Tony recruited Carly to co-author and manage She has the difficult task of keeping his constant flow of crazy ideas focused and helping to flesh them out into useful articles. Carly enjoys sharing knowledge and ideas about the future of the industry and finds the website a good outlet for this passion. Carly is involved in the the CPCU Society Underwriting Interest Group. She also writes "Next Wave" a monthly column in the "Perspectives" section of Best's Review.

1 thought on “Training for the Resiliency Mindset”

  1. Resiliency is near and dear to my heart as I’ve been thinking and writing about a related topic:
    disappointment at work. Even with effort and perseverance, our careers don’t always go the way we’ve planned. So having a resiliency mindset, as you write about, is key to finding a path forward. This is true both for the industry to adjust to the changes and increased speed you’ve mentioned but also for the associates who have to navigate their careers inside of all that change. Thanks so much for bringing up this subject!


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