5 Signs Your Employee Is About to Quit (and What You Can Do About It)

Posted December 13, 2018
Burnout, boredom, lack of purpose, lack of sufficient pay, changing life circumstances are just a few reasons why employees might quit their jobs. And while the unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in nearly 50 years, the employee turnover rate is higher than it’s been in a decade. When large companies add to their team, hiring might just seem like business as usual. But for small business owners looking for the best talent while working lean, there could be a lot on the line after someone leaves--namely the ongoing success of their company.What happens when the solid team you thought you had, suddenly begins to dissolve? The good news is, there are plenty of signs leading up to the big notice, so you don’t have to be taken aback and left with two weeks to find and train a replacement. Just open your eyes a little wider and start to take notice of these signs that your employee may be about to leave--then start to plan accordingly.

Signs your employee is getting ready to move on

  • Becomes overly engaged

If you notice your employee’s work pattern suddenly changing, it may indicate that changes are on the horizon for you both. Maybe they used to get the job done, but lately, they’ve been attacking their tasks with more fervor than ever as though they are trying to wrap things up and leave a clean slate for their replacement. The good news is they intend to leave your company in a good place. The bad news is, your conscientious employee is likely headed out the door.
  • Becomes less engaged, less focused, less productive

Likewise, if your employee suddenly becomes less of a team player, or starts to contribute significantly less to meetings and brainstorming sessions, they may be phasing themselves out. At this point, they are simply giving face time to their job without being fully present.
  • Doesn’t commit to long-term projects

Maybe they used to jump at the chance to spearhead a project, but suddenly, they seem to avert their eyes when you need someone on a project. If you’ve had a hard time getting them to commit to a big project, it may just be that they know they aren’t going to be around much longer and are saving you the inconvenience of jumping ship mid-project.
  • Starts keeping to themselves

Has the office clown suddenly grown silent, becoming all about business? When moving on, it’s natural to start to cut office ties. If you notice that your employee’s behavior has changed drastically from their normal self and routine, it may be a sign that they are part way out the door.
  • Takes excessive time off

If your employee is suddenly requesting a lot of time off, coming in late or taking extra long lunches, they may be actively hitting the interview trail. Or, they may simply be utilizing all their PTO days to make the most of the benefits they’ve accrued through your company.So what should your response be if the signs are pointing to them leaving your company? Learn, plan, train and hire. What do we mean by that?  Check it out.

What’s your next move?

  • Make their impending departure an opportunity for valuable feedback

According to a Gallup poll, one in two employees quits to leave their manager. While they’re still around, try to find out if they are leaving because of you. Obviously, don’t ask them point-blank if they are leaving. But you can ask questions about your management style, or how they feel while working on or completing a project for you. Get as much feedback as you can from them because they’ll be likely to be more honest than employees who still have something to lose by their expressing themselves.
  • Maintain a good relationship

It can be easy to react when you suspect someone is on their way out. But before you do anything drastic, make an effort to be open and friendly and prevent any bad blood from forming between you. It can help solidify you as a great employer in their mind, which may be enough to get them rethinking their decision. But even if it doesn’t, you’ll keep a happy network of people who may be able to help you down the road.
  • Evaluate the climate of employee satisfaction

Happy employees are productive ones. And happy employees tend to remain on the team. Is productivity decreasing across the company, or have you heard murmurs from your team? If so, launching an employee focus group or handing out employee satisfaction surveys can reveal what lies beneath the surface--and give you insights into what you can do to mitigate more turnover in the future.
  • Make a plan

Plans provide a roadmap for success. Once you suspect an employee is on his way out, start putting a plan together for your next hire. Does promoting from within make sense? Talking to your team can also provide some great insights on skills that would be an asset to the job. Work with HR to put a job description together and start interviewing candidates who will not only fill the soon-to-be gap but bring new experiences and skills to fit the role better than ever.By knowing what signs to watch for and what you can do if someone decides to depart from your team, you’ll be better prepared to continue business as usual with minimal downtime.
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