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Remote workers less attached to jobs, companies, co-workers than they were in the office: survey

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Prudential Financial Vice Chair Rob Falzon joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the shifts taking place in America's workforce, the struggles working from home, and the key takeaways from the Prudential survey.

Video Transcript

- Nearly half of American workers are either actively looking for new jobs or considering starting a new job search. That's the finding of pulse of the American worker, which is a new survey conducted by Prudential with the help of morning Consult.

Rob Falzon is joining us now. He is Prudential financial's vise chair. Rob, it's great to see you. You know, there has been sort of this central mystery right at the center of what's going on in the jobs market here.

And I think that this survey gives us a little bit more insight as to what-- into what's going on. I mean, that's an awful lot of people who are thinking about switching jobs here. What are the findings? Tell us about what's behind it.

ROB FALZON: Well, you know, first, you know, some confirmation coming out of the Labor Statistics yesterday, right? So record number of resignations quits 4.3 million. And actually, Julia, if you look at that number over the last six months, it's like 20 million people have resigned their jobs over that period of time. That's you know, 15% of the total labor force. It's probably closer to 20% of the private sector.

And so, you know, what's driving it well? First, working in a remote environment has caused something I call disassociation. So individuals are sort of less attached to their jobs to their companies, to their coworkers than they were when they're actually in the office and able to work with those individuals.

And that disassociation, the sort of set a stage for them re-examining what they're doing. And as they think about their careers, what they're-- what's on their minds is outside of compensation and benefits, which is always important.

And frankly, in this environment, the benefits piece of that is probably after earlier surveys showing a higher priority even than the compensation side of it. But beyond that, it's around career development. Many of them are completely rethinking their careers and the direction of thinking about job switching.

And flexibility that they want a go forward basis. And many of those things they haven't been able to fully achieve in their existing positions during the pandemic.

- Rob 71% at least according to the survey. 71% of managers with open positions say the applications they are receiving are from workers that don't have the right skills or the skills gap. We continue to focus in on. How can we close this gap?

ROB FALZON: Well, yeah. So it's, you know, I'm calling it a Canyon, Brian, as opposed to a gap because it started out as a skills gap. And what's happened is as a result of the pandemic, you know, you've seen an increasing widening of that.

And our survey showed you know 30%. Early in our surveys, 30% of the individuals who responded said I'm-- I don't know that I have the skills that I'm going to need for my job. That went to 50%. And a survey, we did a couple of surveys ago.

And now, the number gone well north of that in terms of individuals who feel like what's happened on the technology and data front is sort of outstripped where they are. So it's going to require an investment that we make in skilling American workers.

And I think we-- I think we as I call it all of the above. It's corporations have to lead. We have to invest in our talent.

Because the reality is we're not going to be able to hire our way out of this problem. So we're going to need to train our way out of it. But I think it goes beyond that. I think public policy and institutions, academic institutions, and others need to be engaged in creating the opportunity for individuals to do skilling in order to make themselves relevant to the jobs that are getting created today versus the jobs that they had.

You know, what's interesting is we have this phenomenon of resignations. At the same time, we've also got almost 10 and 1/2 million open positions that are unfilled. And that's, you know, as a result of that 71% not being able to find talent with the right skill set.

- And one of the other interesting relevant findings of the survey is that 58% of the folks you surveyed say it's been harder to learn new skills in a remote environment. Now, I know a lot of companies, even when people are in the office do sort of virtual trainings and such. And so I wonder if a finding like this might cause them to-- to rethink that a little bit

ROB FALZON: Yeah. The-- so you need to make investment in your training because while a lot of training to your point can be done remotely and online. And-- and in fact, you know, I think the majority of it actually can be done that way.

There is an absence of something that's absent when you don't have the opportunity to engage live with people. Having said that, I think what's really happened, Julia, is that as a result of what we've been going through both the pandemic and its economic repercussions that employers have kind of stepped back from their engagement with their employees and their training of the employees.

And so if those programs are there that, they haven't-- you know, employees are having a hard time finding the time to fit them in because they're all working frankly longer and harder remotely than they were when they were in the office.

And employers have focused on other important issues and perhaps have not invested in keeping that, that information, that training as fresh and relevant as it ought to be. And the economy has moved dramatically in the last 24 months.

And so if you had training programs that you had stood up 24 months ago, they all need to be, if not brushed off thrown out. And you need to reorient more toward, you know, what the needs are for, you know, if you look at a company by company. We can look at where we're having challenges filling roles and gear our training to develop skills to fill those roles.

- And the survey discusses, Rob. This erosion of corporate culture may be causing more people to leave. Is that one of the biggest risks to a full economic recovery that companies lose their soul and they're just not as productive?

ROB FALZON: Yeah, I think the challenge I think about it from two perspectives. One is as employees are less engaged with their organization and the culture, they're less engaged with their work, that's going to lead to lower levels of productivity. That's not a good thing for us.

The second part is that if the extent we're not investing in the skilling of those employees, they're not reaching their potential. If they're not reaching their potential, we're going to have a suboptimal GDP versus what we're able to do with the labor pool that we've got.

So again, it's about investing in those individuals. And I think on the first part of that, you know, we need to bring people back into the workplace. But probably bring that-- bring them back in a way that allows them the flexibility that they've enjoyed while they've been remote so that it can continue to benefit both from a remote environment and from you get from being live and in the workplace.

- Prudential Financial Vise Chair Rob Falzon, always good to see you. Have a great rest of the week.