Employers Must Brace for Competitive Talent Market as Workers Rethink Careers and Job Expectations: Survey

June 22, 2021 Updated: June 22, 2021

A new survey suggests employers should brace for an increasingly competitive talent market post-pandemic, with half of U.S. workers telling pollsters they feel more in control of their careers and a majority saying they’d like to retrain for a job in an entirely different field.

According to Prudential’s latest Pulse of the American Worker Survey, which polled some 2,000 full-time employed adults in late May, 53 percent of American workers said they would switch jobs to a new field or industry if they had the opportunity to retrain.

At the same time, 48 percent are reevaluating the type of job they want going forward, and 24 percent are planning to look for a different job post-pandemic. Half the workers planning to leave their jobs said they’re looking for better pay and benefits and would prefer a job that allows for professional growth and a better work-life balance.

“The road ahead will see the market for talent heat up, and it will become increasingly competitive for employers to attract and retain top talent. Employers looking to be a magnet for top talent in the post-pandemic economy must understand workers’ expectations of work and what they need from their jobs,” said Rob Falzon, vice chair of Prudential, in a statement.

At the same time, half of the workers polled in the Prudential survey said the pandemic has made them rethink their career goals and given them more control in determining the direction of their career, with the findings coming at a time when U.S. employers are beset by a hiring crunch.

“Employers are ready to welcome their workers back as restrictions lift and America prepares for the New Next,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president of the North America division of ManpowerGroup, the world’s third-largest staffing firm, in a recent statement.

A ManpowerGroup report in early June found that talent shortages continue, with one in three employers overall struggling to find skilled talent and nearly half of employers reporting difficulty filling roles in operations and logistics.

“Childcare challenges, health concerns and competition mean demand still outstrips supply which is dampening the ‘big return’ of the American workforce,” Frankiewicz said. “It’s a worker’s market and employees are acting like consumers in how they are consuming work—seeking flexibility, competitive pay and fast decisions,” she added.

Adding to business hiring woes are generous pandemic unemployment benefit boosts, according to industry groups and Republican leaders, who in some two dozen states have moved to end participation in federal supplemental jobless compensation programs.

“Now is the time for employers to get creative to attract talent—and to hold onto the workers they have with both hands,” Frankiewicz said, with the ManpowerGroup survey showing businesses eager to hire but supply remaining muted.

Many economists say the mismatch between employers and job seekers will likely persist until early fall, when schools reopen, COVID-19 fades further and federal unemployment benefits end.

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