More employers are resolving to show employees how valuable they are in a stepped-up effort to retain top talent amid an improving job market. So says OI Partners/FS&F, a global talent management firm.

That's because employers are more often hearing "I quit" from workers, even with a high unemployment rate. Could a virtual office space help attract workers especially in cities with major traffic like Atlanta, New York, Boston and Los Angeles? We think so.

But let’s look at some of the O/I Partners findings before we continue on that theme.

"Many companies are leaner than before the recession, so when valued employees leave, it's tougher to replace them. It takes a higher toll on the workplace, where average workloads have increased," says Steve Ford, managing partner of OI Partners/FS&F. "Departing employees take with them not just their skills, but their knowledge, experience, and relationships with customers, compounding the damage.”

  • The number of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs has surpassed those being laid off for seven out of the last nine months for which figures are available (February-October 2010), including the past three months, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  The number of job openings rose 19 percent over the same 9-month period a year ago.

  • Among the industries being affected most by voluntary employee departures are financial services, professional and business services, and health care. (By the way, financial services, professional and business services are prime candidates for telecommuting with a virtual office space.)

  • It's becoming more expensive to replace departing employees. It costs an average of 2.5 times an executive's salary, and two times a manager's pay, to replace them, including costs for recruitment and training, and lost business.

"More employers are making it a priority to demonstrate to workers how valued they are.  It's no longer enough to say 'be happy you have a job.' Companies need to be intentional about engaging and retaining top talent,” Ford says. “People who have been treated the same as lesser-performing employees will be looking to go where they feel they are a better fit.”

You can make your employees feel more valuable by trusting them to work in a virtual office space. Virtual offices can help your company cut down on traditional office expenses, and even drive greater productivity. What if your employees were working from home three days a week  instead of fighting Atlanta traffic? They could devote that time to work instead, or take a much-needed rest. A virtual office space should be part and parcel of your alternative workplace strategy—and your employee retention strategy.