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Increasingly, workers expect pandemic workplace adaptations to stick

Apr. 6, 2021

Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey indicates talent migration could be on the horizon as workers look for increased flexibility and opportunities to grow in their careers.

From remote work to company culture and benefits, the pandemic has highlighted the things workers value most in employment. And if they do not have them, they’re preparing to seek them out when the time is right, according to a newly released Prudential survey.

The Pulse of the American Worker Survey: Is This Working? A Year In, Workers Adapting to Tomorrow’s Workplace was fielded in March 2021—one year since many workplaces shut down on-site operations and employees began working remotely. The survey, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of Prudential, polled 2,000 adults working full-time and found that 87% of American workers who have been working remotely during the pandemic would prefer to continue working remotely at least one day a week, post-pandemic. Among all workers, 68% say a hybrid workplace model is ideal.

This is a double-digit percentage point jump from a similar question in a survey fielded last fall and indicates that the positive aspects of remote work, such as flexible schedules and reduced commute times, outweigh the challenges of isolation and increased work hours that workers cited.

“Our survey shows that American workers want the benefit of remote work, but still see value in coming together in-person at least some of the time,” says Rob Falzon, Prudential vice chair. “For Prudential, working nine-to-five, five days a week in the office will be a relic of the past. A hybrid workplace is better for our business and our employees.”

According to the survey, 42% of current remote workers say if their current company does not continue to offer remote work options long term, they will look for a job at a company that does. This signals that a “war for talent” may be looming if companies don’t address workers’ needs. A significant number of respondents said they switched jobs during the pandemic (20%) or plan to look for a new job when the threat of the pandemic decreases (26%).

Among those planning to seek new employment post-pandemic, 80% say they are concerned about their career growth, compared to 49% of all workers. Additionally, the majority of this group (72%) are rethinking their skill sets (compared to 46% of all workers).

Falzon says the looming talent war will be won by companies who affirm their standing as a top destination for both current and future talent. These employers will cultivate cultures that reflect what is most important to workers, such as remote-work options and flexible work arrangements, opportunities for career development and mobility, and comprehensive benefits—as evidenced in a related survey fielded in January—that foster employee health and well-being and build financial resiliency.

“Leaders must be focused on cultivating thriving cultures of internal mobility, prioritizing continuous learning, and delivering robust benefits to support their workers,” advises Falzon.

Issues of communication and company culture were also top of mind among workers surveyed, and employers that worked to maintain both will find it easier to retain talent, the survey finds. In fact, 42% of workers with plans to leave their current employer graded them a “C” or below for their ability to maintain employee connectedness and culture during the pandemic.

“The workplace of the future is here,” says Falzon. “Leaders must approach each component of this new normal as an opportunity to maximize company culture and differentiate themselves as an employer of choice.”


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Claire Currie
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