Employers will need to prepare for a more competitive talent market as pandemic restrictions end. According to findings from Prudential’s latest Pulse of the American Worker Survey: Post-Pandemic Work & Life – Expectations from the American Workforce, workers are rethinking their careers as well as their expectations of work.

Despite setbacks experienced due to COVID-19, half of the survey respondents said the pandemic has given them more control over the direction of their career and a quarter said they plan to look for a new job. The decision to leave is being driven by the desire for better pay and benefits, as well as professional growth and a better work-life balance.

Work-life balance took center stage during the pandemic for many workers who went remove. The combination of professional and personal demands caused 46% of respondents to say they have made trade-offs between personal priorities and work. The pandemic was particularly hard on working caregivers, many of whom (45%) considered leaving the workforce. Going forward, working caregivers said they would most value work flexibility (42%), more paid time off (38%), and greater commitment to employee health and well-being (37%).

American workers are also focused on getting their skills up to speed quickly. About half of workers (46%) reported they will have to learn new skills within the next year to do their current job, and 43% said their financial security would be in jeopardy without retraining or reskilling. Both technical skills and and soft skills will be in demand.

Prudential Vice Chair Rob Falzon commented in a press release, “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.”