Attributes of a good employer

What makes a company a good employer, or at least better than average?

Time off?
Work/life balance?
Ability to work from home some days?
Ability to work remotely on a permanent basis and live in a different city?

Please describe!

Inspired by:

For me, since I already have a job, the company would have to be better than my own, in terms of all those attributes in aggregation.
If I were out of work, I’d have a very different set.
Number 1: will they hire me?
Then after I have several offers, THEN, I’d add to the list, compare and contrast.

For me, it’s all about culture. Culture trickles down into pay and benefits, opportunities, work-life balance, flexibility.

If a company has a toxic culture, I don’t care how much you’re offering me, it’s not a place I want to work. That’s why I’m always very hesitant to leave a company. If I’m pretty happy where I am, why go somewhere else if I don’t have to?

It’s a non-answer, I know.

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it’s really not about the company, but more your immediate supervisor. But they could be related

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  1. doesn’t require managers to give at least 1 negative feedback to employees
  2. doesn’t require employees to write self evaluation in essay form for performance reviews
  3. is perfectly fine with employees just doing what’s expected of them, and no need to exceed expectation

I agree with you Gonzo, but I will expand a little.

I think that younger employees should seek out mentorship as the primary quality in any potential job. Whatever the pay, you want a position that will ultimately lead you to a bigger, better, higher paying job down the road. You want a job that has people that can teach you and set an example.

Twigs list is fine, but finding a position that will get you where you want to be in 20 years is more important than a few thousand dollars a year right now, or a few extra vacation days, or working from home, or free coffee.

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So, a company that is pro-nepotism?


This is one where it seems to me we just improved in the past year. Last year, we were told explicitly by fairly up management that the expectation is that most people would meet expectations in almost everything and for most people if you put down that you exceeded expectations in even one thing, it’s likely you’re doing it wrong. It’s always nice when sense happens.

Ive only worked for large companies (consulting/brokerage) where the actuarial department was a small microcosm within the firm.
As others have mentioned, culture is key.

What made those companies good:

  1. Management- good managers know how to “manage up”. They have the right connections within the firm and know how to get what the department needs/deserves (headcount, tech, investment, $). They push back when necessary and are proactive in managing expectations. Upper mgt “gets it” and understands the importance of investing in analytics/actuarial.

  2. Autonomy - our group can get the job done and meet our goals without being over managed (micromanaged). Not overwhelmed with unnecessary admin work or corporate bs busy work. Dont have to go through unnecessary red tape to get our job done and take care of clients (which makes the company money).

  3. Compensation - proactively rewarding people for doing a great job. Raises, promotions, bonuses shouldnt have to be argued or negotiated. Key contributors and outstanding performers should be recognized and rewarded. If you cant afford to lose them then dont let their compensation or the lack thereof be the reason. Good companies know how to retain their talent.

  4. Career path / variety of projects - there is opportunity to work on interesting projects, different knowledge experts and expand your knowledge base. You arent pigeon holed to one thing 100% of the time.

  5. Balance - most normal people dont want to work all the damn time. Having work life balance is important to most people especially those with kids. This seems to be more understood post pandemic especially with more remote work. I dont need to waste time commuting 10 hours a week to sit in an office on calls all day and another 5 to 10 hours shooting the shit with my colleagues. I can chat with clients and colleagues virtually and be 3x more prodouctive.

In the end , work can suck and working with different personalities can be challenging as well. But there are some cultural things that can be implemented to make life for the worker bees much more palatable.

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Your manager doesn’t:
Gaslight you by asking your opinion and yelling at you when you give it.
Give subtle digs that pretend to be funny but undermine your confidence
Give preference to people who look more like them and have the same hobbies
Enjoy excluding you
Routinely overlook passing on information you need for your job
Try to manipulate you into saying things that can be held against you in some way

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These are very specific examples. Hopefully you didn’t have to go through this

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That sounds like an incredibly toxic manager.

Good companies have few toxic managers. Good companies don’t reward that kind of behavior, and seek to avoid it.

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My experience has been otherwise good companies look past a lot of behavior as long as the manager is productive/profitable. Pockets of toxic can be found in the best companies just as pockets of great experiences can be found in bad companies.

As a non-actuary I will point out for the greatest impact this list is relative to other actuarial employers. I fully support this conversation. Transparency of pay, benefits, etc. benefits workers.

I quit my last company solely because of a manager like that. Thankfully it worked out, I got an immediate 30% raise and a better environment.

It got to the point that after any exchange, I would email her and Bcc myself, “Just to make sure we’re on the same page, we just discussed X and you very strongly preferred I handle it with plan Y. I’m concerned about A and B but will go ahead.”

That way when she said she had no idea why I’d do Y, I would have the email ready to forward to her. She didn’t like it. I quit.


From what I have experienced companies with the stronger retirement benefits are generally more enjoyable places to work

Retirement benefits means nothing to me. I need instant gratification.

More vacations, higher pay, free gifts, good managers, intriguing work.

TIL: You didn’t have a “sent” folder.