This article was written for our sponsor, Vaco

The number of people in the United States who quit their jobs hit a record high — 4.5 million — in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A few months later, in March, the unemployment rate stood at 3.6%.

While some lost jobs, others moved into remote positions, giving many an opportunity to reflect on what they wanted. This so-called Great Resignation has led to a realignment.

Workers are evaluating “‘Am I happy with where I am working, do I see long-term development opportunities, do I see myself in this role 10 years from now?’” said Emily McBride, head of people operations for VacoBuilt, a division of management consulting company Vaco. “A lot of people realized they can go somewhere else that better aligns with their skill set and where they want to be.’”

Recently, there has been a turnaround in the job market, with more open positions than candidates. Companies that don’t want to be on the wrong end of the Great Resignation have to work to retain employees.

“I’d not only call it the Great Resignation or the Great Alignment, but also the Great Awakening,” said Derrick Minor, senior consultant for human relations and payroll operations at Vaco.

Before this awakening, some employees were “in a fog” and too scared to ask about time off or benefits because of the tight labor market, said Minor.

“As things changed, so many people said, ‘There’s just no reason for me to do this anymore,’” he continued. “Now we’re hopefully beginning to see people start to fall into jobs or benefits that they love rather than what they were forced or pushed into.”

Smart enterprises are aligning hiring and company culture to attract and retain the best staff.

“Companies are having to evaluate everything they provide their employees: salaries, benefits, professional growth — and not only to hire but to retain top talent,” said McBride. “You have to have a great environment for folks to work.”

McBride advises businesses to do just that.

“When it comes to staffing, I tell companies, You may not want to hear this, but you’re going to have to pay this person X percent more because of the market,’” she said. “One thing people forget about is the cost of turnover. You might say, ‘Hey, we don’t have great retention rates, but we’re still in business and still rolling.’ But you might have made more if you hadn’t had turnover.”

“We’d rather treat the people we have well so they stay with us for years to come. We’re continuing to build a compelling work environment that is constantly caring for people. That’s one of our big objectives this year at VacoBuilt,” she finished.

According to data from the Association for Talent Development, the cost to train a new employee is roughly $1,252. Additionally, an average of 33 hours is spent on training time alone, not accounting for the loss of productivity that comes with the learning curve.

Offering flexibility to employees and being adaptable with staffing is crucial. Vaco’s experts advise businesses how to do so, whether it be recruiting full-time or temporary contract employees or outsourcing some positions.

“You have to be agile when you’re dealing with these big events like the Great Resignation or Great Realignment,” said Minor. “We’re trying to help people think through the long-term repercussions of this, as well as the short-term.”

For Minor, thriving in today’s business environment comes down to a simple strategy.

“Employers: value your employees,” said Minor. “Do what it takes to retain them. And employees: connect with what you’re meant to do, even if it means having an open discussion about any uncertainties with your employer. If you’re at the point where you’re ready to leave, and you can have an open discussion with your employer, do it. If anything, it’ll show you whether they’re going to value your relationship or not.”

McBride said there’s been a mentality shift from “‘I can hire anybody, because there are 10 more people lined up on the sidewalk ready to start.’ That’s not really the reality anymore. Candidates are seeing that if they’re not getting treated well, they’re hitting the road.”

What will make the difference?

“You can be a lot more successful in your business and be profitable upfront if you take the time to take care of your employees,” said McBride.

This article was written for our sponsor, Vaco