Britain's bosses have been warned to take steps now to improve employee motivation and safeguard productivity after research found that three-quarters of the workforce know or suspect that colleagues are on the lookout for a new job.
The research, which surveyed more than 1,600 UK employees, also found that one in five employees are unhappy in their current job, with a further third feeling unsure and considering their future.
It also found widespread itchy feet, with nearly a quarter of staff say they expect to spend just a year or less in their job and half planning to spend less than three years in their current role.
One in four were on the lookout for a role with better pay or benefits, with a third seeking new challenges. Almost one in three were hoping for opportunities for career progression or promotion, while one in five were walking away due to a lack of recognition or lack of development opportunities in their current role.
The scale of this epidemic of job-hopping can be gauged by the fact that nearly a third of those questioned have had two jobs in the past five years, whilst more than one in 10 (12 per cent) have had three.
Launched to mark the start of Investors in People Week, the research also reveals the top tell-tale signs of colleagues who are job hunting.
These include the increased use of mobile phones, sudden bouts of illness, booking holidays at short notice, having urgent appointments and a lax approach to working hours.
One in five said that they book time off work or take a sudden holiday to cover up the fact they are attending interviews for other jobs, although the vast said that they have never needed to make an excuse when going for interviews.
"It's clear that the days of collecting a gold watch for loyal service are long gone," said Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of Investors in People.
"Today's employees demand more from their employers. For employers, continuing to motivate people at work is an ongoing issue. It is vital that they act now to tackle the underlying causes of why people want to move on.
"Employers need to keep the interest high and the challenge fresh. Improving communication and recognising employee contribution makes a real difference to employee motivation and, ultimately, an organisation's bottom-line.
The problem of job hopping is compounded by the fact that more than half of organisations (54 per cent) don't have a succession plan in place should a member of staff leave – something that leaves them risking derailment if a key employee decides to depart.
"Recruitment is a costly and time-consuming business and what's more, high turnover can be unsettling for both staff and customers," Ruth Spellman added.
"This makes it even more important for employers to take the necessary steps to build commitment with their staff to motivate them and incentivise them to stay, before it is too late."