The word “insurance” usually conjures images of policies and paperwork, automobiles and hospitals, talking ducks and geckos.
But in the uncertainty of 2020, the term feels more closely associated with holistic concepts that go beyond selecting a plan for one’s home, health, or car—like warmth, safety, family, solace, and security.
Chandler Rohwedder has found that Aflac, where she currently serves as senior regulatory associate counsel, places a high premium on these ideas. A welcoming work culture was evident at the leading provider of supplemental insurance in the US as soon as she arrived at the company’s Columbus, Georgia, headquarters campus as a staff attorney in 2012.
“When I first started, the security guards were so nice when I drove onto the campus,” Rohwedder remembers. “They were waving at me and saying, ‘Hey, how are you? I hope you have a wonderful day.’ I said to myself, ‘Oh, that’s so nice. I wonder how they knew I’m a new employee.’ But I soon realized that’s the culture at Aflac. It wasn’t because I was a new employee; it’s because the people are so nice. It’s a great place to work. There’s a loyalty from the company to employees. In turn, the employees are very loyal to the company.”
Most important, Rohwedder says that this loyalty also applies to Aflac’s policyholders.
“I know a lot of people think insurance companies simply want to deny claims and pay as little as possible,” she says. “But that’s definitely not who we are. We really value our policyholders and want to give them a good experience and deliver on the promise of our policies.”
The majority of Rohwedder’s day-to-day consists of legal representation and regulatory work in the areas of data privacy and cybersecurity, so she doesn’t interact with policyholders as frequently as people in some other positions at Aflac. But the company constantly encourages employees in different departments to understand the scope of each other’s work. Rohwedder has accompanied various Aflac employees throughout their workdays, giving her a clearer idea of their connections with policyholders.
“As part of my training, I listened in on some of our call centers,” she says. “The people out there are so nice to our policyholders and really just go above and beyond trying to answer their questions. When people file claims, they’re usually in a time of need. Our company really wants to go out of our way to do the right thing and give our policyholders the proper support.”
But the most impactful experience for Rohwedder was when, at the urging of Aflac Executive Vice President and General Counsel Audrey Tillman, she visited one of the company’s market offices in Pennsylvania. Rohwedder describes the offices, which are spread throughout the country, as branches for the various boots-on-the-ground sales teams. She tagged along with a woman who had just started out as an Aflac agent. When she arrived at the market office, the agent told her they would be cold-calling fifty to sixty businesses in a single day.
“I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. There’s no way we can hit that many in a day,’” Rohwedder recalls. “But making those in-person cold calls gave me so much more respect for our field force and how much effort goes into selling insurance. By the end of the day, I remember I got back to my hotel room and I was exhausted. To this day, I think back on that memory. Because when agents come to us and they have a request that will help them keep an account, I have seen how much work it takes to even get that account and sell our products. I didn’t have a frame of reference for that before.”
Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over and Aflac’s employees are once again working side by side in Columbus, Rohwedder believes this sense of compassion and respect will be more important than ever. Coming back to a physical office space will no doubt be a sensitive issue for some employees, but she knows that as ever, the company will do its utmost to foster a welcoming workplace and keep employees healthy and safe.
“It just goes back to treating people how you want to be treated,” she says. “When someone needs grace, give that to them, because one day you’ll need it too.”
The Perfect Balance
As a mother of two, Chandler Rohwedder considers a healthy work/life balance a top priority. Here are a few ways she finds her golden ratio:
- “I learned from my father that we all have stressful days at work and that it’s easy to bring that stress home. But my dad never did. I try to do the same for my husband and our children. If you need to drive around the block a few times, do it. But leave it at the door. Don’t bring work stress into the house.”
- “One of the things that I’ve found really valuable is setting aside time to think, which sounds so basic. But we get so busy that it’s easy to get stuck in a reactive mentality. To be effective and a good business partner, you have to set aside that time to think about a strategy, how the pieces fit together, and explore the options.”
- “Ask for help. I’m the type of person who wants to do everything myself. Especially as a working mom, I’ve learned that we can’t do everything all the time. In asking for help and support from my working mom peers, I’ve actually gained wonderful, lifelong friendships.”