According to a recent Slack survey, a staggering 43% of desk workers report feeling burned out. This problem is especially pronounced in the insurance industry, where the burnout rate stands at 39%, surpassing the national average of 35% and making it one of the top five sectors reporting the highest levels of burnout in 2022.
While the effects of burnout are felt by every member of an insurance organization, insurance agents are particularly vulnerable. The role of an agent involves selling policies and catering to the needs of existing policyholders, requiring them to interact with many individuals and organizations on a daily basis. If an agent becomes overwhelmed, their ability to fulfill these critical responsibilities may be compromised, leading to negative consequences for both policyholders and insurance carriers, including reduced customer retention rates, decreased revenue streams, and lower satisfaction scores, among other adverse outcomes.
Today’s insurance talent gap may be pouring gas on the already-blazing burnout fire, but there are ways organizations can bridge the workforce gap and better enable their agents to enjoy their work and be more productive.
What’s causing insurance agent burnout?
Over the past few years, the insurance industry has seen a significant talent shortage as a result of a few factors, including mass retirements, resignations, and little interest in working in the insurance industry. But it’s not just short-staffed insurers that are struggling: even carriers with full teams are finding their agents overwhelmed by the number of daily manual tasks.
Manually processing payments, for instance, can take hours out of the work week, causing delays that result in late payments, duplicate bills, and costly cancellations for non-payment. These inefficiencies create a rise in policyholder frustration and confusion, not to mention the physical and mental toll they can take on the agents managing these relationships.
So, if the hiring market is tough and workloads continue to grow, how can insurers break this toxic cycle and take better care of their agents?
During a time when costs and claims are at an all-time high, carriers must do more with less while continuing to provide excellent service to agents – otherwise, both staff and policyholder retention is at risk. To do all this, insurance companies must optimize their valuable human resources by automating manual tasks and processes.
How can insurance organizations address burnout?
First, recognizing the symptoms of burnout in insurance agents is crucial for addressing the issue effectively. Some common indicators of burnout include:
- Irritability or unhelpfulness toward policyholders and colleagues
- Lack of responsiveness with policyholders regarding concerns and questions
- Delays in premium and claims processing or account management
When combating burnout, it’s essential to consider the quality of work, not just the quantity. While flexible working hours and encouraging time off to recharge are effective strategies, research suggests that the way employees experience their workload has a stronger impact on burnout than the number of hours they work. In fact, a Gallup study revealed that the quality of work experience has up to three times more influence on overall well-being than the number of days or hours worked. Simply working fewer hours may not be sufficient; it’s the content and nature of the work that matter most.
To alleviate burnout among insurance agents, automation of workflow and digitization of manual, labor-intensive processes can be highly beneficial. Embracing technology presents a significant opportunity for both process improvement and agent morale, particularly for tasks like billing and payment that are tedious and can impact revenue. By streamlining these processes and reducing administrative burdens, agents can focus more on meaningful projects or enjoyable tasks, thereby reducing stress and burnout.
Closing the talent gap
To learn about more strategies for bridging the workforce gap and leveraging digital solutions to improve the insurance industry, download our free ebook, “The Digital Bridge: Closing the Insurance Talent Gap by Digitizing Billing and Payments,” below.