In early March, as COVID-19 spread across the globe, PGIM’s global head of human resources, Pamela Sinclair, and her colleagues in the U.S. followed the news and fielded reports from international operations in Asia and Europe, closely monitoring the impact. Even with so many unknowns, one thing was clear: The $1.4 trillion global investment manager of Prudential Financial would need its employees to stay home for their personal health and safety, while continuing to steer clients through an unsettling period of economic uncertainty and market volatility.1
What happened next was a testament to PGIM’s workforce and company culture—investment teams quickly adapted to a virtual workplace, and employee performance has been as strong as ever.
"By prioritizing what our people do and how they do it, rather than where they do it, we’ve been able to sustain much of our high-performance culture,” says Sinclair. “Our results are proof that virtual means of communication and collaboration really do work and are here to stay.”
For its focus on building and sustaining a positive workplace culture—both before and throughout the pandemic—PGIM earned a spot on the Pensions & Investments Best Places to Work in Money Management 2020 list. The annual rankings—based in part on employee surveys—recognize companies that stand out in the asset management industry for “efforts to create a culture that supports employees and brings out their best.”
PGIM President and CEO David Hunt says the culture at PGIM is the prevailing reason for the company’s low turnover, among the best in the industry.
“PGIM takes a long-term view not only in our investment philosophy, but also in how we identify and grow our talent,” Hunt says. “By promoting an equitable workplace, and a welcoming and inclusive environment, we nurture a ‘low ego’ culture that allows all employees to bring the best of themselves to work, and to harness our collective intelligence for the benefit of our clients.”
Health and wellness come first
Having a culture that promotes work-life balance was key to easing PGIM’s transition to a fully-remote work environment. PGIM and Prudential’s benefits and policies are designed to support employees as they embrace personal and family responsibilities, with industry-leading parental leave and childcare provisions along with dependent care support and flexible hours.
“My manager asked me when I would be using my full 10-week allocation of parental leave, and not if,” says David Klausner from PGIM’s Thematic Research team, whose family grew with the addition of a second child this year. “That’s when I knew I had the team’s full support.”
Shortly after work-from-home began, PGIM adapted many of its on-site offerings to a virtual environment, while supplementing these with programs aimed at maintaining its employees’ physical and mental health.
The company adopted a virtual fitness program for employees and their families, as well as wellness programs tailored to combat pandemic-related stress and fatigue, including mindfulness sessions and interactive touchpoints for working parents or those in isolation.
COVID-19 testing was fully covered under the company’s insurance plan, and employees could access virtual nursing consultations and a virtual dental care program. In addition to a short-term dependent crisis care coverage reimbursement—up to $100 per day—employees received extra paid time off for self-care, for employee illness or to care for another due to COVID-19 illness.
Select worksites throughout the U.S. offered curbside grocery pickup for employees and complimentary meals were offered to the essential workers who remained on site.
“We put our people’s health and safety first,” Sinclair says. “While we were among the first to move to a remote working environment in March, we will not be among the first to ask people to go back to the office. We are applying zero pressure on people to do anything that might jeopardize their health.”
A personal touch to the virtual workplace
PGIM’s workforce grew during the pandemic, as layoffs were suspended through Q3 2020 and the business continued hiring through its already well-established virtual onboarding program.
“The pandemic has led us to expand our outreach with virtual campus recruitment, which has diversified our talent pipeline,” says Emily Davidson, director of Talent Acquisition at PGIM. “While it’s certainly unusual to have PGIM employees who have never set foot into the office, managers and teams are going the extra mile to welcome our new colleagues into the fold.”
A big part of ensuring business-as-usual in unusual times meant making sure all employees had the tools and support to build a workplace away from work. PGIM offered virtual ergonomic assessments for home offices, enhanced its expense reimbursement program for work-from-home expenses and expedited technology enhancements to facilitate virtual work, including special training on virtual workplace technology.
The business also offers thousands of on-demand virtual learning and development sessions and remote mentoring, encouraging employees to hone their skills and develop new capabilities.
Connectivity matters more than ever
By some measures, the virtual environment has actually strengthened the company’s sense of community, says Kathy Sayko, head of Inclusion and Diversity at PGIM.
“The lack of travel has meant that our senior leaders have had greater availability than in years past to participate in our programs, including teach-ins and virtual fireside chats,” Sayko says. “We had several thousand people attend our Pride webcast in June—more than could have ever attended in person—and friends and family could tune in too.”
The virtual environment allowed the company to increase the frequency and reach of some of its most popular inclusion initiatives, such as its Strategies for Success seminars for women in middle-management. Each session is led by a senior leader and is designed to create visibility, networking and to provide a space for open dialogue aimed at promoting retention of women in key roles across PGIM.
The company also fed its employees’ desire to give back to hard-hit communities by instituting additional charitable gift-matching options to benefit national relief organizations and front-line workers.
“We actively encourage our employees to engage in our volunteer and gift matching programs, which allows employees to support causes they’re passionate about,” Sayko says.
Sinclair says that while the feeling of togetherness that comes from being in-person cannot be fully replicated virtually, PGIM makes it a priority.
“We’re all waiting patiently for the day we can return to the office,” she says. “Until then, we’re doing our utmost to make everyone’s work lives better during these trying times. There’s a raft of things that come along with that—whether it’s virtual wellness programs or even a good old-fashioned virtual happy hour—to help us get through this together.”
For award methodology, visit www.pionline.com/BPTW2020
1 Assets under management (AUM) data is as of 9/30/2020.
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