Canadian Underwriter

3 questions to ask before leaving your P&C job

February 10, 2023   by Jason Contant

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As the war for talent rages on, Canadian P&C industry professionals would be well-advised to consider what actually makes them happy before leaving a dissatisfying job.

A recent Harvard Business Review blog, while addressing a general audience, easily adapts to the insurance industry.

“Take some time to figure out which parts of your job are the ones that bring you the most joy,” wrote Art Markman, a University of Texas at Austin professor of psychology and marketing. “That way, as you think about your future, you can best strategize about new positions you might want to aim for.”

Three questions will provide insights into the best parts of your work life, Markman wrote in What Do You Like About Your Job?, published Jan. 27.


Where do I find the most satisfaction?                    

Start by distinguishing between happiness and satisfaction and exploring which aspects of your job relate to each emotion. Happiness is momentary and reflects the positive feelings from pursuing some desirable outcome. Satisfaction is a positive feeling that reflects how pleased you are about what’s achieved over a period of time.

These two emotions relate to your day-to-day work (the process) and your achievements (the outcome), Markman wrote. The process of your work affects your daily happiness, while the outcome is typically associated with a sense of satisfaction.

If you like particular tasks that are part of your job, you’ll be motivated to increase your skills in those areas. Conversely, if you find certain tasks unpleasant, you may dread those aspects of work. There is also a particular satisfaction that comes with performing well on job elements that you find intrinsically rewarding.

“The outcome of your work relates to the mission of the organization you’re working for,” Markman said. “Do you believe your efforts are making the world a better place?”

When you reflect on your work, think about both happiness and satisfaction.


How do my values align with my work?

After you identify which aspects of your job that you like, try to understand why they’re appealing. This evaluation is rooted in your values, and work needs to align with those values, Markman noted.

For example, an insurance adjuster may enjoy helping others. “The mission of the work may be a critical component to whether you appreciate your job,” said Markman. On the other hand, if someone values achievement or power, then personal accomplishments at work will influence job satisfaction.

And values can evolve, so track yours over time. For example, early in your career you may value achievement (meaning individual recognition is important). Later in your career, you may derive more satisfaction from parts of the job that let you help others.


What do I want to say I’ve accomplished?

Think about your legacy — the accumulated influence of your work tasks over time. Project yourself mentally to your retirement and look back. “What do you want your work to have been about?” Markman asked. “Do you think that the path you are on currently will support having that impact?”

If you feel like your current trajectory will let you continue feeling the alignment between job and values, then remain on that track, Markman advised. But if there’s a significant mismatch, that’s a good indicator that it’s time to think about alternatives and possibly talk to a career coach committed to helping you find that alignment.


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