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Half of American Workers Ready to Jump Ship

resume . / Credit: Job Search Image Shutterstock

American workers weathered the stormy seas of the recession with their current employers, but now almost half of them are ready to jump ship.

According to new research, the uncertain job market is not stopping workers from thinking about changing jobs. In fact, 49 percent of Americans said they would be looking for a new job in the coming year. 

The research also determined that workers who are planning an exit, at least according to their own assessment, are the ones who've been putting in a lot of extra work and elbow grease during the recession. Ninety percent were self-described hard workers, 79 percent were self-described high achievers, 73 percent were highly educated and 64 percent described themselves as ambitious.  

The findings may be a reflection of employees' tiring of struggling through a slow recovery.

"Employers should be concerned that after several years of recession and a very slow recovery, their top talent has a pent-up desire to leave for what they believe to be greener pastures," said Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president of corporate services at Aflac, which conducted the study. "Our study also sheds light on some of the reasons employees consider leaving and what employers can do to keep them."

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Employers, however, are not taking those steps, according to the research.  Employees said that benefits packages, company reputation and stress levels were all factors that would help them determine if they would leave their current company. In particular, 84 percent of employees said their benefits package would play a part in whether they left or stayed at a job. One-third of respondents said they were more likely to leave due to their company's reputation and 43 percent of workers who were stressed were planning an exit. 

The research also found that companies that did not make a priority of trying to retain employees were more likely to lose employees as a result. To avoid losing top employees, companies can take several simple steps, Tillman said. They include: 

  • "Assess your workforce often to hear what's on their minds and what's important to them."
  • "Regularly recognize employees' efforts."
  • "Create programs and tailor benefits to address your employees' current needs."
  • "Communicate often about benefits to drive participation and demonstrate that you support employees and their families."

"It's been an employer-driven market for a number of years and businesses watching their bottom lines may not have taken care of employees as well as they did before the recession," said Tillman. "However, demonstrating they care and showing appreciation in ways that are meaningful to their employees are the most important actions company leaders and HR executives can take to prevent their best workers from walking out the door."

The information in this research was based on a survey of more than 1,800 employers and more than 6,100 employees. The research was conducted by Research Now for Aflac as a part of their 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report. 

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