Have You Thanked an Actuary Today?

by Chip McCleary, ACAS

I know, it’s not a question that crosses the minds of many people. It’s probably not a question that crosses the minds of even actuaries. It should, though.

Study after study on employee behavior shows that employees like to be recognized for work that they do. Actuaries aren’t any different. They don’t like to have their hard work treated as “part of the job we all do.” It doesn’t mean being recognized for every little thing — some things really are just part of our job — but it does mean that when we must go beyond the norm, we want to have that effort acknowledged. The digging that we didn’t expect to have to do, the finding something wrong that we know others don’t notice but we do and think to ourselves, “I have to fix that and make it right,” the taking time to make things come together for others in an easy-to-understand way, the amending of write-ups to highlight what others want to see mentioned, the back-and-forth of answering all the what-ifs that others inevitably have, that’s not just “part of the job we all do.” It’s that kind of effort that should be noted, called out and applauded.

It doesn’t even have to be after-hours, on-the-job work that gets recognition. It could be noticing someone else needs help with their work and giving assistance. It could be calling out a problem in how something is done and suggesting a solution for how to solve it. It could be working proactively on a project and finding new information that makes that analysis more valuable. It could even be a simple act of kindness like paying for someone else’s lunch because they forgot their money — something that I once did that earned me a coffee mug, but I thought nothing of doing it and was incredibly appreciative of receiving the gift.

Do you call out when your fellow actuaries go above and beyond like that? If you don’t, perhaps now would be a good time to start doing it. But what are some ways that you can do this? Ideally, your company has an employee recognition program. Find a way to write up what you see someone else do, and send it in. Hopefully the person you want to recognize finds out that someone else saw their contribution and said, “That’s important. That’s a good thing. That needs to be recognized and celebrated.” If it’s important enough for you to notice, it’s important enough to be recognized — and perhaps employees can get something from the company for their acts of generosity.

What are some other ways to recognize people’s hard work? There’s lots of ideas that can come from management, but as a front-line worker you can still do some simple things that mean a lot:

  • Mention it to them directly; let them know that you notice and you appreciate the time and effort they put in. The power of “thank you” is often underestimated; employees enjoy hearing a sincere expression of appreciation for their work. Just make sure it’s not “Hey, thanks for finishing that project — here’s the next thing I need you to work on.”
  • Leave a thank you card on their desks. It’s a simple act, takes a couple minutes to write, but also signals a sincere appreciation and has a powerful effect.
  • Leave their favorite snack on their desk. Whatever they like snacking on – a cookie, bagel, muffin, candy bar. It’s easy and cheap and can be left anonymously.
  • Leave a gift card to their favorite place to eat or shop. Even $10 signals “your effort is valued by someone” and can be left anonymously with a simple thank-you note.

Any chance you have to recognize a fellow actuary, go out of your way to do it. Your fellow employees will appreciate it, and hopefully you’ll be the recipient of someone else’s appreciation and notice in return.