Towers Watson Reviews

Updated 15 October, 2014
Updated 15 October, 2014
376 Reviews
3.4
376 Reviews
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Towers Watson CEO John Haley
John Haley
183 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • I like that they focus a lot on employee health and work/ life balance (in 28 reviews)

  • Flexible work environment depending upon the office and the manager (in 28 reviews)


Cons
  • A lot of reviews have quoted an excellent work/life balance but I don't see it (in 47 reviews)

  • No work life balance during peak seasons (in 10 reviews)

More Highlights

37 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Want to work like a workaholic and still not get recognized?

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Pension Analyst (PAG) in Toronto, ON
    Current Employee - Pension Analyst (PAG) in Toronto, ON

    I have been working at Towers Watson full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Big company, challenging work, name brand looks good on the Resume.

    Cons

    Do not like the "bell curving" approach and penalizing those more than they should be. The review process is very biased and if you're not on the "inside track" you may as well start looking elsewhere. The most politically oriented place in my ENTIRE career.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get off the "family brotherhood" bandwagon and cliques and actually reward people for putting in hard work and hours, not just fast-tracking cliques and bloodlines like royalty. People talk, and the turnover (and training costs) will only increase.

    Secondly, stop underbidding the competition for ridiculously low contracts. Yes, you acquire the account, but at what cost to recoverability? This will only hurt the teams in the long run.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Very stressful and under appreciated

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Towers Watson full-time

    Pros

    Have flexibility to work from home.
    People who enjoy working in a remote environment will like it because you will never a have a team. Entire work/meetings is done through phone.

    Cons

    No work life balance during peak seasons. They don't treat you as humans during peak hours as client comes first no matter what.
    Leadership has unreasonable expectations. They don't understand the system but demand you to work.
    Heavily process oriented company so there is absolutely no scope to define anything. You have to follow the process even when it is inefficient

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be reasonable to your employees and listen to their voice. Try being flexible when needed.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Toxic environment (International)

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - International Consultant in New York, NY (US)
    Current Employee - International Consultant in New York, NY (US)

    I have been working at Towers Watson full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Other groups seem stable and invest in their employees.

    Cons

    Clients are poorly staffed. No work-life balance. Rewards are abysmal given the workload and effort. Leadership does not operate with integrity and takes no responsibility for their actions. Not smart.Turnover is extremely high.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Appoint someone else to manage the group who has people skills and is impartial. Use outside people to run the daily operations including work flow and career management of associates.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Disappointed

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Junior Pension Analyst in Denver, CO (US)
    Current Employee - Junior Pension Analyst in Denver, CO (US)

    I have been working at Towers Watson full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    The benefits are great, flex time, OT, free lunches sometimes, also get a lot of time off

    Cons

    Very disorganized, no training, pay is terrible (I have experience).
    I'm very disappointed at the way people act here, if you are new you will not receive training and if you are over 30, well you are not part of the clique and no one will help you..ask a question, you get the blow off approach. I'm actually disgusted.
    Oh and they only promote once a year so it will take me years to reach 60k.
    You may ask if you have experience why do you need training? Because TW uses their own systems..and not user friendly. My training buddy has spent less than an hour with me. Oh and don't question this because your team will review you come time for a raise..not just your manager..so suck it up

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you are going to hire please train

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  6. 5 people found this helpful  

    If you're young, smart, and motivated look elsewhere

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Actuarial Analyst
    Current Employee - Actuarial Analyst

    I have been working at Towers Watson full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    - great people.

    For the most part the consultants you work with are some of the smartest people in the industry.

    People generally take pride in the work they do and are genuinely interested in their work product, for the most part

    Most young people here are typically outgoing (defying stereotypes of the actuary) and enjoy having a good time

    - Job Security

    More of a negative, actually, but due to understaffing, you can stay here as long as you would like (even if you continually show a lack of competency or display a lack of interest or concern in the work you do)

    Cons

    where to begin?

     There are a lot of internal issues here that have been neglected by management for a long time, which has only made things worse, although, the issues are now being addressed but with lack of urgency, transparency and regard.

    - No incentive for young employees to perform well, and no way to retain the young employees that do perform well (and meet expectations)

    With high billable goals that are typically viewed as unattainable (I barely hit mine working 10-hour days on average, with plenty of 15 hour days during busy season, taking 3-4 days off all year while working plenty of weekends, and exceeded the billable goal by only 100 hours) you better be able to reward the employees that are able meet the goals.

    However, despite a clear work load disparity at the analyst level, there is no clear disparity and distinction in analyst's bonuses and salary increases. For example:

    Analyst A: who worked 2000 hours and produced high quality work product will receive X% + 3% of base salary and Y% + 2% in annual salary increase at fiscal year end

    Analyst B: who worked 1600 hours and produced so-so work product will receive X% of base salary and Y% in annual salary increase at fiscal year end

    Ultimately, hours worked over the billable goal at the analyst position typically equates to a minimum wage hourly rate or less, so there is no fiscal incentive to outperform goals, however there is every expectation that you will work late and that you're just as vested in the work product as the consultant delivering the work to client

    Really the only tangible reward for good work is more work.

    - Top Heavy

    This probably is strongly related to the analyst bonus issue (as well as unrealistic growth expectations of senior management); with so many tenured associates at the consultant and senior consultant level (who take home much more at year-end in bonuses then junior associates) there is no money in the bonus pool to go to junior associates, as well as bottlenecking top-performing junior associates from transitioning into a consultant role

    Also, none of the consultants and senior consultants who are either incompetent or 'nightmares' to deal with are handled appropriately (fired). Instead they are allowed to 'hang around' as long as they would like and continue to drive down office morale.

    It's assumed that the 'problem' consultants will just get the idea and eventually move on based off of low bonuses on an annual basis (this assumes some disparity in the bonuses at the consultant level), however all these 'problem's are vested in rich legacy pension plans and are an older population, so, if they have any financial sense (they all do), they all are perfectly incentivised to stick around until retirement while their rich pensions continue to accrue.

    - Lack of Transparency

    If anything is being done to address the 'above-average' turnover it is not being communicated to the office or specific practice.This of course is assuming that high turnover is being addressed, since in the last year and a half over 20 analysts have quit in my particular practice (with more than half being knowledgeable, tenured senior analysts).

    Although, senior management is quick to rationalize high turnover as 'coming with the territory' of being in the financial service industry.

    its worth nothing that there are, roughly every two years, employee engagement surveys so that management can better address issues within your practice, office and company-wide. However, in my practice, the results of the engagement survey have yet to be acknowledged or discussed in a practice-wide meeting (what you would think would happen after engagement survey results have been released, but here we are more than 4 months later...).

    Bonus structures are not discussed with younger employees so there is no understanding of how bonuses are awarded and under what circumstances they are awarded

    Promotions and, more importantly, employee development are not discussed with junior associates unless they reach out to their manager to try to understand how they can be promoted.

    - Lack of communication

    this may come with the territory of working with actuaries, but, generally, everything is done on unspoken expectations i.e. a consultant will give a tenured analyst some admin type work (filing or making edits to some documents) and tell them to do it, but will expect the analyst to pass off the work to a more junior analyst or administrative assistant, but nothing will be said of that nature. It is worth noting that occasionally you'll have a consultant who actually expects the tenured analyst to do the admin type work and will get upset if you pass that work off (even if your busy and the admin type work is urgent)

    - No work-life balance

    IF you're motivated to get promoted or exceed goals(although no guarantee that you will be able to get promoted through hard work and dedication)

    - High turnover and understaffing

    No end in sight to this issue (as previously alluded to)

    - Complete disconnect between senior management and junior associates

    senior management doesn't understand that you need competent young associates to be able to retain key clients and grow client relations. Inconsistent work product, missed deadlines, and client dissatisfaction is what will continue and grow more apparent as turnover escalates.

    Senior management does know they will need less competent young associates in the future as they attempt to become a leaner more cost efficient company. less analysts, more outsourced work, more admins, is all part of the game plan, but who's going to replace the consultants to ensure client relationships are maintained? Oh, well the retirement practice is going to evaporate in 5 years anyways so what the difference. At least that is what is assumed by senior management, although they'll tell junior associates that pensions are making a comeback and the company can continue to grow at faster pace than currently, even though their largest revenue generator is in a declining field with spikes in revenue over the next few years only coming from plan termination projects (that will generate a lot of revenue now, but in 2 years there will be no revenue)

    - Benefits are below average in comparison to industry

    - pay is below average in comparison to industry

    and bonuses are non-existent (as previously mentioned)

    Also, actuarial exam bonuses are roughly half of what Aon and Mercer offer

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -Develop realistic growth expectations.

    You know the company cant grow faster than currently and you know this underfunded the bonus pool in the process. if your benchmark for bonuses is your best year ever and you know you can't continually outperform that benchmark your employee's hard work will continually go unappreciated

    - Your employees define your future success

    You're in the financial services sector so start coming to terms with how important the people you employ are and do everything you can to retain your top performers.

    - Listen to your employees

    Please, stop ignoring what your employees are saying because you're in the financial services sector and high-turnover is expected. Employees don't like hearing that their biggest concerns are being completed ignored because 'this is what you signed up for", no they decided to work here because they assumed Towers was a global leader in HR solutions..

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Clueless Management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Office Services
    Current Employee - Office Services

    I have been working at Towers Watson full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    A salary and benefits centrally located

    Cons

    Low morale, politics galore, benefits aren't as good as they previously were, low compensation and no flexibility in work hours, no room for advancement

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider mentoring lower level staff

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Odd Culture, political shark tank, no training- but you must do it our way...

    Current Employee - Senior Consultant
    Current Employee - Senior Consultant

    I have been working at Towers Watson full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    People are very bright and once they have kicked back a few drinks they loosen up and personalities actually begin to develop!

    Cons

    Leadership? Leadership is too busy to pay any attention to what the individual managers are up to. Then, when things are escalated, and probably too late- they become involved. The managers need training, the staff needs training. When leadership is engaged- they are great- it just does not happen all the time. Too bad. It would create a better environment and change the culture.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Increase training- get rid of poor managers. Pay attention to what is happening.

  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Not great for growth opportunities

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Consultant in New York, NY (US)
    Current Employee - Consultant in New York, NY (US)

    I have been working at Towers Watson full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Good Benefits and work life balance

    Cons

    Not a lot of growth opportunities

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    Incompetent

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Actuarial
    Current Employee - Actuarial

    I have been working at Towers Watson full-time

    Pros

    Not a single thing is good

    Cons

    As a junior actuary I want to learn. To grow. To become the best at what I do.
    All I have done for the past year was cleaning data. When confronting management about this, they confirm that this will continue for the next 4 to 5 years, and even worse even people with 12 years of experience are still doing this.

    The methods we use are out-dated to say the very least. In our whole office there are only 3 people who knows how to program in VBA. If I suggest a better approach it is shot down almost immediately.

    I compare myself to my other actuarial friends in other companies and they are doing far more advanced things after 3 or 4 months than what I am doing after 1 year.

    The junior actuaries hired (and a large number of senior actuaries as well), are completely useless as well with one girl who will become a qualified actuary in a few years asked me (to mention one of the few stupid questions) how to concatenate 2 cells in excel.

    Another asking me what SC is exactly after working at TW for 7 months...

    Good talent is leaving TW.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    DO NOT EMPLOY IDIOTS. Set up a testing system in which candidates much attain a certain level to be considered to join TW.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Towers Watson Response

    Oct 09, 2014Segment Lead Recruiter

    Thank you for taking the time to write a review. We're disappointed to hear your negative comments. We have a graduate recruitment process with a vigorous assessment criteria, which we hope ensures ... More

  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Make sure you have a people manager who takes development seriously.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Analyst
    Former Employee - Analyst

    I worked at Towers Watson full-time

    Pros

    Exposure to various clients and industries.

    Flexible work environment depending upon the office and the manager.

    Cons

    You'll do the same work over and over again. If you get stuck with a people manager who doesn't care about development you can get dead ended. Some offices afford you more flexibility than others. Average benefits. I highly recommend not starting your career at Towers. Other firms do a much better job of developing their people. Go to Hay, Pay Governance or Pear Meyer if you are starting your career in this field. You'll be treated much better as an analyst or project manager.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do a better job of picking people managers. Look at what offices have high turnover/haven't promoted people and ask yourself what has been the constant.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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