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The importance of workplace flexibility within the Actuarial sector

by Rebecca Miles | 12 April 2022

Whether employers are allowing staff to finish early, work from home for a few days a week or take on a completely remote role within the company; the Actuarial sector has changed over the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s only going to benefit the industry when it comes to hiring exceptional talent.

Here at Sellick Partnership, we work with a number of clients and recruit at all levels across the Actuarial sector. As well as working with businesses of varying sizes, there is also a diverse range of flexibility on offer from our clients.  

For some, they want set rules in place for employees to follow when it comes to being in the office. Others would prefer to hire candidates that can work remotely, with no expectation to meet in person – or at least not on a regular basis. Then there are companies without a plan in place, that are willing to listen to potential employees and, specifically, how they want to work, taking note of what factors are important to them.

These ever-adapting approaches are equally as wide-ranging for Actuarial candidates. Some people have a preference to work remotely for a number of reasons. Others would rather be around their colleagues every day, favouring the traditional office setting and many candidates like to have the flexibility to choose how their weeks are structured

Here we will delve into the advantages surrounding remote and office-based working, together with highlighting the benefits of having an element of flexibility and what that could mean for the recruitment process as a whole.

 “It’s proving very difficult for some companies to recruit, largely based on their flexibility to work from home. Those companies that can be fully remote are often preferred in the market.

“It’s not always the case that candidates want to work fully remotely but they like the option – they like the fact that they can choose when and why they go in to the office and that there’s not a set amount of time they have to be there.”

First of all, it’s worth noting that some of our Actuarial clients don’t have set long-term plans just yet. Several are conducting consultations, which are taking place over the next few months, to propose arrangements that meet everyone’s needs accordingly.

This is a great position to be in (as a candidate or a client) as it opens up the point of discussion internally, which will subsequently result in better businesses. A company’s openness around flexibility suggests a lot about the wider culture and whether they will be responsive and fair overall.

Ultimately, clients are struggling to attract candidates if they are expecting people to be back in the office full-time or if they are implementing a blanket policy across the business - for example, all staff must work in the office Monday, Thursday and Friday every week.

Having a flexible outlook means that firms are becoming more attractive to new candidates as well as building a loyal bond with current employees who may be less inclined to look elsewhere.

This approach, and the wider conversation around work-life balance, is a trend we can expect to see continuing as the vast majority of candidates now want to know what the company’s policy is at the very start of a recruitment process.  

Pros of being office-based:

  • Seeing colleagues face-to-face can be invaluable. From a junior perspective, pursuing a role in Actuarial and undertaking the IFoA exams can be  a big shift from university so it can be helpful to spend time with colleagues
  • More scope for one-to-one training – staff can learn on the job from their peers, get help tackling problems and talk to senior employees about issues they may be facing.  
  • Building relationships – you can begin to establish a rapport with people which could be valuable when it comes to career progression.
  • Chance to improve interpersonal skills – most Actuarial roles require technical mathematical skills; some people within the sector may need assistance developing softer skills, such as communicating with a range of audiences. Being office-based can boost those face-to-face relations which can, in turn, help people when it comes to getting a new job or being promoted.
  • Company culture can often be interpreted easier in-person – it takes less effort to get to grips with how a company operates, encourages its staff and celebrates their achievements when it’s taking place right in front of you.

Pros of being flexible:

  • Clients open themselves up to a huge candidate pool as they can recruit from a much larger geographical area – some of our clients who are offering fully remote roles are able to access a wider candidate base than if they were only able to look within a reasonable commuting distance to their office. Similarly, companies looking for employees to come in only once or twice a week are seeing more applications from further afield as candidates are willing to cover longer distances when they know it won’t be expected every day.
  • Time and money saved not travelling to work – many people have become used to the extra time and money they’ve had over the last couple of years from not having to commute 5 days a week
  • Using time differently – whether candidates have hobbies, children or other commitments outside of work, they might prefer to use their time to do other things.
  • Some people prefer working from home instead of being in corporate environments - Actuarial jobs can be very fast-paced and stressful so for a lot of candidates, that slightly more relaxed environment makes it more manageable.
  • Only work your allotted hours – for example, you can start at 9am and finish at 5pm without the need to commute home when you’re  likely to still be in ‘work-mode’.

The overall message is that every client and candidate is different – their needs, their expectations and their circumstances. This is why there are benefits to being office-based, working remotely, and having some choice between the two.

This level of flexibility is something that was long-needed within the Actuarial sector and is giving candidates a degree of confidence when it comes to their future options.  

Moving jobs, particularly for an Actuary, is a big decision so they want to make sure that a company is going to be a good fit for them and offer the flexibility they need over the next three, five and 10 years of their career when they might think about going part-time, having children or taking a sabbatical.

A survey, which was carried out by recruiters Morgan McKinley, found that 71 percent of UK professionals would consider leaving an organisation if they didn’t provide their preferred flexible working options.

In relation to that, 90 percent of employers have changed their policies on flexible working, compared to before the pandemic.

Ultimately, this is an ongoing conversation that many of our clients are having with their current employees as well as candidates that are interviewing with them, using all of the information they gather to form a longer-term judgement on what they might offer.

Here at Sellick Partnership, we are working on filling a number of positions with a multitude of flexible employers, meaning that we should, in theory, have something for everyone. Visit our Actuarial recruitment page here or take a look at our candidate and client resources for any assistance you may need.