Employers need to move quickly if they are to keep disenchanted workers from moving on or - even worse - have them stay.
A survey by consultancy Watson Wyatt has found two out of five employees are actively considering leaving their current jobs within the next 12 months.
The Watson Wyatt Total Reward Survey also reported that the main reasons for this talent drain were employees having poor working relationships with their bosses, not being offered career development and a lack of opportunities to be creative.
Steve Huxham, managing director of recruitment firm HUX Executive Recruitment and chairman of the Recruitment Society, said that, in the current recruitment climate, firms should be doing all they could to retain talented individuals.
"Recruitment activity has gone up noticeably in the past three to four months. This means employers have to be sensitive to signs of people being fed up at an early stage,” he told Management Issues.
"Retention has got to be near or at the top of people’s priorities at the moment,” he added.
It was important businesses kept a close eye on the atmosphere in their offices and, if someone appeared disenchanted, deal with it quickly.
While it was better to try to keep employees, if there was no way to dissuade them then it was better to manage workers out of the door positively than have them sitting around staying unengaged, he suggested.
"Whatever the circumstances, you should always be trying to arrange an amicable exit, even if they are leaving to join the competition,” he said.
Keeping on good terms would make it more likely they might return to the fold in years to come or, at the very least, be less motivated to get one over you in their new job, he added.
The Watson Wyatt survey of 220 businesses and 3,000 employees also found that eight out of ten employers polled said they were trying to take a more rounded, holistic view of reward programmes.
Non-financial benefits, such as career development, increased flexibility, pay structures aligned to performance and having clear promotion prospects were all becoming increasingly influential, it suggested.