Even as hiring prospects look bleak, many employees say they plan to leave their current jobs, a recent study found.

Twenty-three percent of employees expect to voluntarily quit their jobs within the next year, according to Achieve Global, a Tampa, Fla.-based global consulting firm that polled 520 employees and 489 managers nationwide.

Nearly half of managers said the highest turnover is occurring within specific employee groups. At 42 percent, young workers showed the highest level of attrition. Frontline managers and women followed at 28 percent and 20 percent respectively.

Turnover among high-performing employees can be particularly damaging for businesses, Sharon Daniels, CEO of AchieveGlobal, said in a statement.

"Attrition among high-performing employees is largely catalyzed by insufficient compensation, lack of growth opportunities, and employee contributions not being recognized," Daniels said. "The effects of high performers vacating job positions can ripple throughout many levels of a company, resulting in low employee morale or deteriorating quality of products or services."

Daniels advised companies to adopt policies aimed at retaining top performers, even while cutting costs through the downturn.

"While overall turnover rates may decrease in the current economy, keeping top performers will still be a competitive advantage," she said. "It's understood that compensation benefits are not always feasible with smaller budgets, but human resources can focus on other talent management aspects, such as ensuring employee recognition, having career development strategies, and allowing flexibility for a healthy work-life balance."