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Employee resignations are now a greater business concern than COVID impact. Nearly 46% of workers are considering or actively looking for a new job, and 18% of execs cite the Great Resignation as the biggest problem for their business in 2021, according to two newly released reports.

Fifteen percent of American workers said they have switched employers since the start of the pandemic, while nearly half of all workers are actively searching for or considering looking for a new job, according to Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey.

Why workers are leaving

Workers cited the opportunity to get better compensation/benefits, lack of growth opportunities with their current employer and the desire to do something completely different as their top reasons for leaving or considering a new employer, the Prudential report said.

SEE: 3 signs the Great Resignation is still going strong (TechRepublic)

Having the ability to work remotely at least some of the time is another motivating factor, especially for millennials, which are the largest generation in the American workforce, according to the report.

When managers were asked why they thought workers were leaving their organization, they cited similar factors, including compensation, growth opportunities, burnout and wanting to do something entirely different.

Meanwhile, West Monroe’s Quarterly Executive Poll for Q4 indicates that executives have a positive outlook about the US economy—75% are bullish while 25% are bearish, according to the report. Many have strong M&A plans for the fourth quarter and are focused on sustainability heading into 2022.

Yet, at the same time, 18% of executive respondents listed the Great Resignation as the biggest impact on their business in 2021, while 15% are concerned about the pandemic’s impact on employees, the West Monroe report said.

Only 5% said they’ll lay off this quarter, while 71% said they will hire more and 25% said there will be “no change from last quarter,” when hiring was at its highest.

The future of travel remains shaky, the West Monroe report found. Respondent executives are split on whether they’re more compelled to travel for business or pleasure. What will drive business travel is new customer acquisition, face time with their own companies and in-person events, the West Monroe report said.

However, 83% said business travel in 2022 would remain hampered by new COVID variants and rising cases or death rates.

SEE: Juggling remote work with kids’ education is a mammoth task. Here’s how employers can help (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Hiring challenges

Increased talent mobility is causing headaches as well: 58% of managers with open positions said they are not receiving enough applications, according to the American Workers report.

Further, that report found that 71% of managers with open positions said the applications they are receiving are from workers who don’t have the right skills to fill those positions. Eighty-two percent of managers with open positions said they would be willing to hire a candidate who would require some initial training to do their job.

The talent exodus is also a challenge, with two-thirds of managers saying their teams have been impacted by employees leaving during the pandemic, the American Workers report said. This includes 29% who said their teams have been “significantly impacted.”

Executives are trying a lot of new strategies to deal with the talent shortage, including using more automation technology (33%), increasing wages/salaries (68%), adding more flexibility where talent permanently resides (57%), using contingent talent (51%), investing in retention (46%) and implementing higher signing bonuses (41%), according to the West Monroe report.

The demand for tech skills is growing. Eight in 10 workers said building tech skills will become increasingly important for jobs in the future, according to the American Workers survey. Also increasingly important is learning to analyze data.

Yet, one-third of workers said their manager has never identified the skills they need to learn and 20% of managers said they’ve never asked an employee to learn a new skill.

Prolonged remote work takes a toll

The erosion of culture connectivity could be fueling workers to leave, the American Workers survey found. More than half of remote worker respondents said they are actively (27%) or considering (25%) looking for a new job and half report feeling less connected to their employer while working in a remote setting.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) said it’s easier to look for a new job in a remote environment. A hybrid work model may offer employers the opportunity to provide flexibility while maintaining connectivity, the report observed. Six in 10 said if they were going into a worksite at least one day a week they would feel more connected to their employers.

Two-thirds of workers who have remained remote during the pandemic said they are comfortable returning to the workplace, the American Workers survey found. However, only one in five said they think they’ll return to their workplace before the end of the year.

Roughly one-third of all remote worker respondents said they expect their employer to adopt a hybrid work model once the pandemic is over.