Actuarial Culture in the Workplace

How to improve actuarial culture and the talent experience in response to the pandemic

Elizabeth Walsh

Photo: iStock.com/Edwin Tan

Actuarial culture and the talent experience are top-of-mind matters that both leaders and organizations face in the current hybrid work environment, especially as the actuarial profession has transformed and grown in scope and demand during the pandemic recovery. It is critical these issues are addressed quickly and effectively because investments in culture and talent management lead to reduced costs and stronger business results.

Having worked from home for more than two years, many actuaries and actuarial teams have become accustomed to working remotely and alone, exclusively focused on producing and reacting based on what comes their way. This can lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction for both individual actuaries and their direct reports.

Most organizations have not made sufficient investments in their actuarial culture and talent experience in response to the pandemic. Historical approaches to basic talent compensation, including salary, annual bonus and one-off thank-you awards, can be improved to be more effective at engaging and retaining top actuarial talent. The growing shortage of actuaries is exasperated by higher than expected early retirement, irreversible exodus to nonactuarial roles and skill set mismatch with immediate needs for both quantitative and management backgrounds.

To address the growing actuarial talent shortage and remain competitive in talent retention, leaders and organizations should foster an actuarial culture and work experience that encourages growth, engagement and communication.

First, there should be an increased focus on providing interesting project opportunities and mapping out promotion paths and cross-department development prospects. This can be coupled with continuous performance feedback that is personalized to individual employees with learning and leadership opportunities.

Next, leaders should increase commitment to targeted investments for actuaries and create a work environment that is personally engaging and stimulating in response to employee surveys. In a hybrid environment, culture efforts could include multiday co-locating opportunities, monthly happy hours and a regular meet-and-greet for new hires who would not have a sense of norm of pre-pandemic office culture. For those who work remotely, culture efforts could include virtual wine tastings, virtual terrarium-making and sending care packages during exam season or busy season.

Furthermore, leaders should make a substantial investment in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts beyond gender. Culture efforts could leverage existing employee resource groups and include book club discussions, guest speakers from outside the industry and team-building volunteer activities. All culture efforts should blend seamlessly together and be customized for individual employee needs.

Actuarial culture and the talent experience are critical to the success of organizations. Actuaries should be encouraged to see their path and growth within the organization and be part of an inclusive and pleasant environment in which they feel heard, valued and respected.

Elizabeth Walsh, FSA, MAAA, is a consulting life actuary in New York and a contributing editor for The Actuary.

Statements of fact and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Society of Actuaries or the respective authors’ employers.

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