Despite national economic and employment uncertainty, many American workers who identify themselves as top performers are thinking about changing jobs. In line with research showing the recent uptick of voluntary turnover in the workplace, the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report revealed nearly half of U.S. workers (49%) are at least somewhat likely to look for a job this year. More troubling for employers, a majority of those who say they are extremely or very likely to leave their jobs describe themselves as the kind of workers companies need to retain to remain competitive in a tight economy.

Benefits appear to be a factor in employees' assessment of whether an employer is taking care of them. Workers who are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits program are nine times more likely to stay with their employer than those workers who are dissatisfied with their benefits program. In fact, 76% of employees believe they'd be at least somewhat likely to accept a job with a more robust benefits package but lower compensation.

"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," says Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president of corporate services at Aflac.

Eighty-four percent of workers say benefits are at least somewhat important in the decision to leave a current employer, and 50% say they're very or extremely influential. Thirty-five percent of workers who don't believe their company has a reputation as a great place to work say they are extremely likely to leave in the next 12 months.

One-third of workers who don't believe retaining employees is an important priority for their employer say they are likely to leave. Workers who say they are stressed out are nearly twice as likely (43% vs. 25%) to leave their job compared to workers who are not stressed. Another 28% of employees who are extremely likely to leave their job in the next 12 months say they don't have peace of mind.

"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. 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," says Tillman.

According to Tillman, employers need to assess the 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.

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