By Jessica Dickler
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Employers watch out: Your workers can't wait to quit.
According to a recent survey by job-placement firm Manpower, 84% of employees plan to look for a new position in 2011. That's up from just 60% last year.
Most employees have sat tight through the recession, not even considering other jobs because so few firms were hiring. For the past few years, the Labor Department's quits rate, which serves as a barometer of workers' ability to change jobs, has hovered near an all-time low.
But after years of increased work and frozen compensation, "a lot of people will be looking because they're disappointed with their current jobs," said Paul Bernard, a veteran executive coach and career management advisor who runs his own firm.
Douglas Matthews, president and chief operating officer for Right Management, a division of Manpower, called the results "a wake-up call to management. ... This finding is more about employee dissatisfaction and discontent than projected turnover," he said.
Despite a disappointing jobs report last month, experts agree that the employment picture will likely improve going forward, although hiring will be slow.
Double life of the American worker
"A lot of people who have jobs are considering looking for new work this year," said Charles Purdy, a career expert at Monster+HotJobs. "I don't know if we're going to see a huge uptick in the number of jobs, but I do think we'll see a huge surge in the number of people looking for work, even among people who are already employed."
Austin and Lauren will be two of them. (Both asked that their last names not be used.)
Austin has worked as the general manager for a small manufacturing company for six years, but he has his sights set on a job with the federal government.
"I am definitely ready to make a move now," he said. "I want to change because I feel that I would be more successful and have more challenges working in a Federal agency representing the interests of multiple private small businesses."
Austin has applied to positions at the Department of Commerce, Homeland Security and the State Department. But until hiring picks up, he is maintaining his current employment while campaigning for his next career in the New Year, or what he calls "maintaining and campaigning."
Lauren wants to leave the marketing position she landed soon after graduating in May. She said she feels lucky to have any job at all, "but it's definitely not what I expected."
"I'm currently in an environment where I'm not learning anything and am not challenged by any of my work," she said. "It just makes me feel like I'm wasting my time."
Even with less than a year of experience under her belt, Lauren plans to look for another opportunity in 2011. "What I'm hoping with the new year is that since most companies do their budgets around this time, they'll have room for new employees," she said.
But Bernard warns that they shouldn't leave their day jobs too soon. "People need to have realistic expectations," he cautioned. "It could still take 10 months to find a job."