As workers settle into remote work, employers must continue to deliver a robust response.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which began for most Americans with stay-at-home orders in March, created lots of uncertainty across the country. Six months later, while many workers have largely settled in, new data from Prudential’s latest Pulse of the American Worker Survey reveals emerging undercurrents that employers should pay close attention to as many employees work productively in their remote settings.
The survey, Work in Progress: Six Months Living the Future of Work, was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of Prudential, building off a related survey conducted in May. Fielded in early September, the survey polled 2,000 full-time employed adults and covered a range of topics related to the pandemic, including workers’ opinions of their employers’ response, their professional development during this period, and their stress levels.
The survey found that two-thirds of people (66%) believe the way in which Americans work will never go back to the way it was before the pandemic. Seven in 10 of those working remotely (71%) say the ability to do so is helping them manage pandemic-induced stress. Based on their experiences with flexible schedules and remote work over the past six months, workers would like these options to continue to be offered once the threat of COVID-19 has passed.
As American workers settle into the current environment, considerations around flexibility, mobility and growth will shape the workplace of the future, says Rob Falzon, vice chair of Prudential.
Professional learning and upskilling were priorities for workers before the pandemic, but in a remote setting, learning and development opportunities have been harder to find for many and could be impacting their growth. Thirty-two percent of respondents say that the pandemic has made it harder to learn on the job and 42% say it has limited their opportunities for professional growth. Though fewer opportunities are available to learn, 6 in 10 workers say professional learning and development are important to remaining competitive. When asked where they were most likely to find opportunities to learn, 35% of workers say they look to their employers.
“As employers, we must prioritize opportunities for continuous learning and support worker development, both on site at the workplace as well as in the current remote-work environment,” Falzon says.
Prudential has leveraged its internal training and mobility platform—the Prudential Skills Accelerator—to deliver skills development in the remote-work setting. Its use among employees with access has doubled since the start of the pandemic, with three-quarters of them now enrolled on the platform.
Being able to respond to workers’ needs—including their learning and development—during this time will enhance worker loyalty, according to the survey. Fifty-three percent of workers said they are more committed to their employer since the start of the pandemic, and 54% are more likely to work for their employer long-term because of their response to the pandemic.
“The durability of employers’ response to workers’ changing needs will yield long-term dividends,” says Falzon. “The future of work is here, and employers must remain focused on ensuring that workers are well positioned to grow and thrive.”