Helping customers around the world grow and protect their wealth takes a lot of talent. It requires a lot of agility and foresight to achieve operational excellence, drive a positive client experience and keep the organization ahead of its competition. Prudential Financial, the ninth largest institutional asset manager worldwide and the second largest life insurer in the U.S., has experienced both tremendous growth opportunities and challenges in the past few years. And amid all the uncertainty, the company has been taking on a transformation that depends greatly on getting the right people on its teams and building on its legacy.
That’s why talent was so pivotal to the company’s success in 2021. In a recent financial report, CEO Charles Lowrey cited “significant progress” in Prudential’s transformation to achieve higher growth and become more nimble. And in the company’s 2020 annual report, he credits employees for rising to meet the challenges “facing our customers, the company, our communities and themselves personally, again and again.”
when talent is a priority at the top
This kind of C-level recognition of talent is one reason why Prudential has been able to stay ahead in the market, according to Nya Patel, vice president of talent acquisition, head of DEI recruitment, and culture co-chair of the company’s Asian Pacific Islander American Association (APA) Business Resource Group. In a recent interview with Randstad Sourceright, she points out that Prudential has done well to mitigate the talent scarcity and skills gap difficulties plaguing so many organizations, in part because executive leadership recognizes the importance of talent in the transformation effort.
“Prudential's executive leadership team has been at the forefront of making sure that we keep a pulse on top talent in the market and in recognizing the need for bringing strong diverse talent to Prudential,” she says. “I, as a talent acquisition leader, feel supported by our executive leadership and our focus on recruitment is an enterprise priority.”
refining recruitment to attract and engage talent
Acquiring the right talent, however, has not been easy. In today’s fierce financial services sector, where competition is leading more companies to buy out the bonuses of candidates in January and February (financial services workers typically receive bonuses at the end of Q1), wage inflation is a major concern. Talent expectations are changing too, with work-from-home arrangements more common and demand for better work-life balance growing. Lastly, an increase in the number of jobs and a decrease in talent pools has made it more challenging for companies such as Prudential to compete for top talent.
Patel says Prudential is focused on delivering a better talent journey, and the company has been reassessing all aspects of the candidate experience, in light of its vision and strategy. In addition, Prudential is refreshing its employee value proposition (EVP) and employer brand to better understand and deliver on what matters most to its people.
“We are also re-imagining how we attract talent and the recruiting process itself — everything from ensuring our job descriptions are attractive, building stronger enterprise referral strategy, creating a more efficient interview process, and keeping our offers competitive,” she adds.
Prudential also recently established a DEI recruitment team, led by Patel, that builds a structured diversity recruitment strategy and embeds it into all aspects of the talent life cycle. These efforts will help accelerate Prudential’s commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. “Our transformation and success has truly been in rethinking what we do, how we do it and adapting to the market,” Patel says.
building skills for the future
Another initiative is the creation of the talent marketplace, in which employees become owners of their learning and development and can find internal mobility opportunities. At the end of last year, the company launched an internal gig economy initiative in which employees take on projects that provide the opportunity to demonstrate a current skill or gain exposure to a new skill. Patel says this will help Prudential democratize opportunities across the enterprise and quickly mobilize resources where they are needed while energizing workers who are excited to take on new challenges.
“The idea stemmed from building skills of the future internally and driving employee learning, career growth and internal mobility opportunities within Prudential,” she adds.
Patel also notes that the company is tapping its external recruitment partners for expertise around best practices. By learning how other companies are making the most of their recruitment strategies, Prudential is able to enhance its own outcomes.
As the company further advances on its journey and as talent scarcity worsens, Patel knows Prudential will need to get even more creative. “I don’t think that the talent shortage is going away anytime soon. We will continue to see recruiting challenges through 2023,” Patel predicts. “But we are being very creative in re-imagining what we do, and that has brought us through the challenges and is preparing us for the future.”