Employee turnover is a necessary evil in all workplaces. Gone are the days of staff dedicating their entire lifetime to one organisation and feeling bound by a loyal relationship with the company.

A number of factors combine to convince staff to move on to pastures new but for those struggling to engage and retain employees on an ongoing basis, it could become a serious problem.

The phrase “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” cannot be applied to this situation, unless you’re happy for problems to spiral out of control – and that’s not just from a financial standpoint, but from a company culture and staff morale perspective too.

According to an estimate from The Wall Street Journal, it costs more than twice an employee’s salary to find and train his or her replacement and that’s without adding additional costs for loss of business continuity. It takes time for employees to get fully integrated, with other staff covering their activity whilst they get up to speed and failing to meet their own work demands. This loss in productivity and pressure on performance can then be damaging to the working experience.

We can all appreciate that once a few colleagues fly the nest, even happy employees will start to consider whether the grass is greener on the other side, through fear that they’ve missed a signal that it’s time for a move. Tackling these issues often falls on a few business areas.

The hiring process

More often than not high employee turnover ratios are down to one of two things. Firstly, consider if you’re hiring the right person for the job. This simply requires minor changes to the recruitment process – taking a more rigorous approach to filter out who is best suited to the company. New hires shouldn’t be solely based on a great CV and a candidate’s experience, but on the personality of the candidate and their chemistry with the wider team.

Of course competitive salaries and benefits come into the mix too and this should be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that employees aren’t tempted by offers from competitors, resulting in further economic fallout down the line.

Rewarding work experience

The second common factor in decisions to switch jobs is that the company is failing to provide a sufficiently rewarding work experience. Three key factors in improving this rest with helping staff to feel respected, encouraged and challenged.

If an employee can see that there’s potential for promotion within the business and is being pushed by managers, this supports the notion that they’re a valued member of the team.

As such, frequent feedback is important in getting closer to employees and finding out what makes them tick.  Where possible this should be delivered face-to-face. Managers who are willing to give their line reports face time demonstrate a commitment to the employee’s future. While financial factors are always part of career decisions, you’d be surprised how a small gesture of recognition can go towards boosting morale and inspiring staff. An executive taking the time to personally congratulate a stand out employee can be more meaningful and encouraging than any old cheque.

Workplace flexibility

Another simple and affordable way to boost employee satisfaction at work is to offer flexible working schedules, which include the benefit of working from home. Consulting firm Accenture conducted a survey of its employees and found that 80 percent of respondents said their flexible work schedules made them more likely to stay with the company.

Now that video conferencing technology is available on PCs, tablets and smartphones – encouraging employees to work from home doesn’t have to come at the cost of open communication. Thanks to the flexible working legislation in the UK this has been added to the business agenda. However, there’s much to be said about organisations actually implementing the systems necessary to facilitate staff in terms of technology and management policies.

To ensure flexible working is a success, a strategic plan must be implemented and monitored to avoid loss of productivity. Providing a ‘connected experience’ between the worker and the office is essential – as you’re looking for the same from your employees (productivity and reliability), regardless of their location.

Email and instant messaging are both great ways to quickly issue assignments, touch base with workers and receive feedback, but they lack the personal touch that effective communication requires. Video conferencing allows more complex dialogue to happen, avoiding cases of misinterpretation that can occur otherwise. Creating a community across hundreds of miles can be tricky. Trust and empathy with staff is much easier to foster when an email signature or a voice on the other end of the phone are linked to a face.

By doing this employers can also prioritise morale and better engage employees, helping them, again, to feel more valued as a team member.

If managers are concerned that productivity will be compromised they should establish guidelines and rules, from the outset. These should involve principles around clocking in and out, attending meetings and submitting work. By doing this, employees will be more inclined to work more proactively and professionally initially to counter the potential slacking off suspicions that may exist.

This will also make employees more accountable for their time and allow managers to monitor performance to ensure tasks are performed in a timely manner. This way, employees gain the flexibility and work/life balance afforded by working from home which will encourage them to value their employer, whilst managers can rest assured that business will continue as usual.