Meeting today’s challenges in an insurance company

Now my daughter has grown up and I find myself leading an organization through one of the most disruptive times working parents have ever had in their lives. While working remotely, parents have also become teachers, after-school caretakers, coaches, tutors, and more. Prior to the pandemic, access to affordable, quality child care was becoming hard to come by in Austin, where Texas Mutual is headquartered, and in most cities across the country. Worse still, during the pandemic, a significant number of CPEs have closed and the price of this scarce resource has increased further.

While 30 years ago it was stressful to be a working parent, the issues facing families today are far greater. This may explain why so many women left the workforce with no intention of returning. According to a Fortune magazine article in early 2021, 80% of the 1.1 million people who left work in 2020 were women. I am part of Early Matters Greater Austin, a business coalition focused on the importance of child care and early childhood education for healthy and productive workplaces. It was through this work that I learned of a recent study by the Best Place for Working Parents which found that 80% of employees surveyed would leave their current job for another job with better work-friendly policies. family. The study also found that the main family-friendly policy was employers offering flexible hours and/or days.

The success of remote working during the pandemic has shed light on a new way of working, where business needs and employees’ work-life balance can be achieved. I believe this is the key to attracting and retaining great talent, now and in the future. Remote work creates balance in the lives of employees. As long as employees are responsible for their work, not having the commute every day allows parents to travel away to pick up their children from school or summer camp during their break or to be present for family dinners rather than sitting in a car in traffic for hours.

This type of flexibility is extremely desirable for employees. And it’s not just women; a new Texas Mutual dad told me recently that not having to commute every day has given him time to bond more with his newborn while still being productive and meeting the needs of our enterprise. It’s a win-win in my book.

However, if you ask most business leaders, you’ll likely learn that they’re grappling with this new reality. I can tell you that we struggled with the right approach to returning to desk work at Texas Mutual. The world of office work has been static for decades and, for the most part, not known for its flexibility. Now we see that work can be done differently and business needs can still be met successfully. Yet, as the leader of a company responsible for its continued success, you have to ask yourself: what are we losing with remote work and what if, over time, our corporate culture and our business results suffer? Texas Mutual is first and foremost a business. We must fulfill our mission to provide a competitive source of workers’ compensation insurance, we must be there for our agent partners, our policyholders and the workers injured on the job who depend on us to help them return to productive lives. .

I also think about how young professionals can gain the skills, knowledge, connections and exposure they need to grow in their careers. Take my story. I was a young single mom who started at Texas Mutual as an entry-level receptionist, learned and moved through all areas of the business, and am now a senior executive. I know from experience that there are many opportunities for career growth in our industry. However, in an entirely virtual environment, how do you develop deep relationships with your colleagues and business leaders that can influence your career, especially beyond your team? How do high-potential employees get the broad visibility needed to learn and grow into higher-level roles?

Additionally, I worry about our ability to drive innovation and strategy in a remote environment. How do you make sure the business doesn’t start operating in silos, which can create a less than desirable customer experience? These are just a few of the benefits of in-person work, collaboration, and exposure that can be difficult to fully replicate with remote work.

So while I believe the benefits of in-person collaboration cannot be fully replicated in a virtual environment, I also strongly believe that we have the opportunity to leverage what we have learned over the past two years and to evolve our culture to adopt a better approach to both worlds (on site and remotely). That’s what we try to do at Texas Mutual, working in the office when it makes sense for team collaboration, meetings, strategy development, innovation, training and development, or other company events and continue to allow employees the flexibility to work remotely when it makes sense.

Our employees have proven they can be trusted to help Texas Mutual achieve its mission, but with less commuting time, more time with family and an overall better quality of life. Looking back, I can’t help but think that this kind of flexibility would have alleviated the significant stress I felt during those summer months long ago as I diligently strived to be both a good employee and a good parent.