How Do I Keep My Morale Up?

Question:

I have been working in an Insurance Company for the past year and a half. I was so excited to be an Underwriter in training when I first started working there. Now I dread coming in on mornings and I often call out sick. In the Commercial Insurance Industry we are now in what is called a “soft market” where our insurance competitors have drasticallly cut prices in order to write new policies. My company is losing a lot of business. As a result there has been a lot of job restructuring throughout the company. People have been let go or given a time frame to produce better results. Month after month the Manager tells our Team how we are not growing.

It is painful to listen to this. I work really hard even though I am still learning the ropes. I just feel like we as employees are being penalized for forces beyond our control. Just recently the Manager sent an email to us and asked us to give examples of things we can do to stimulate growth. I suggested applying credit to accounts and easing our underwriting guidelines. I’m not sure how other team members responded. A few weeks passed and I noticed the Manager never called a meeting to discuss our answers. Instead he calls people into his office one by one and explains that their job title and function is changing. For some, they are going to be working in a lesser role than the experience they have. This type of action has been happening for the past 6 months.

I have gone to the Manager and expressed my unhappiness at working in the Department. Basically the Manager told me you might be happier somewhere else. I asked him if the company knows we are in a soft market and growth is low, why does the company heads keep asking for growth from their employees? I asked him why can’t the Departments that are growing just grow for those that are not doing as well until the soft market is over? He asked me what would I have him do. I told him you can get off our backs and tell the people that are telling you to tell us to grow to get off our backs. He told me that my job was not in jeopardy but I have no confidence in that answer based on how other employees have been treated. My morale is low and I feel distressed to get weekly emails on how we have not met our goals. I feel like they just want us to just sit there and take any manipulation they want to dish out.

I feel like I have invested a lot of time and energy into what I thought would be a great career only to see it all crumbling before me. I’ve been debating between staying and hopefully riding out the torture and leaving and working in another industry altogether.

I just am not getting a sympathetic ear from Management. I hate pretending that nothing is wrong when I see the writing on the wall. I feel like I am on a sinking ship and no one is going to save us. If I stay, how do I keep my morale up?

Signed,

Dying A Painful Death


Answer:

Dear Dying A Painful Death:

Your situation is really a painful one. I can see how you feel trapped by the various cross-currents you outlined. The heart of the problem seems to be that the company is losing market share to competitors. The management team doesn’t seem to know how to target to the right business customers, and probably doesn’t have an effective marketing plan to bring in enough new business. It does seem unfair for the managers to pressure the employees for results.

I wonder how close you are to finishing the underwriting training you’re in. If you can hang in there for a while, you might see if you can finish that, and get some experience. At the same time, consider keeping your eyes peeled for similar opportunities. That way, you won’t feel as trapped. You can use online sources, such as Hot Jobs, Monster, and Craigslist. You can do custom searches for your area of expertise, including local jobs in insurance.

At the same time, you might find that the company is able to come up with some better programs that customers will respond to. In that case, they will generate enough new business to keep you busy. If I were in your situation, I’d probably try that strategy. Get the training and stay open to other possibilities. Maybe in a few months, the current company will have some more effective marketing plans.

Contractions are painful–I’ve seen and had layoffs too. You might look for ways to de-stress and focus on leaning all you can for now. Do you have time for exercise and recreation? That could be helpful for you personally.

I hope things work out for you!

Guest Respondent, Author, The Teamwork Chronicles The Workplace Doctors WEGO is doing our best and looking for new possibilities.

Steve Carney