How do you know an employee is going to quit?

Wouldn’t it be great if star employees never left?

But we all know that at some point something will happen that’ll cause one of your “A” players to leave. What that “something” is may not be in your control. Problem is, employee turnover costs companies A LOT of money! Direct employee replacement costs can reach as high as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. And when other factors are included, total costs can soar as high as 90% to 200% of an annual salary.

That’s some serious moola! So what can you do?

Pay attention to your employees and watch for signs that they may be getting restless, and nip it in the bud.

The typical signs are:

  • coming in late and leaving early
  • changes in attitude
  • quality of work plummets
  • having excessive doctor appointments, and
  • dressing extremely nice to work when they usually don’t.

But here are 10 not-so-obvious warning signs you may not think about that also indicate someone is getting ready to fly the coop:

1) Spike In Online Profiles
A good indicator that an employee is looking to move on is a recently updated LinkedIn profile. Check to see if he’s sharing regular status updates. If so, that’s a pretty clear indication the person wants to be noticed. Also, you can search niche job boards to see if your star player has posted his resume.

2) Frequent Excuses To Take Personal Calls
When employees start leaving their work area to take personal calls on a regular basis, they’re likely entertaining new job offers or having a personal crisis. Don’t jump to conclusions, but start digging to see what’s going on or check out some of these other indicators.

3) Experiencing Major Life Change
Major life changes often spur people on to make more money, get a better title or give up working altogether. Some of these events are getting married, getting divorced, having a baby, buying a house or having a spouse get a new job. Can the employee do her job remotely? If so, make the offer so you don’t have to replace her.

4) Increased absenteeism
Is there someone in your group that has demonstrated a pattern of showing up late to work? Have they started to take an unusual amount of sick days? Do they disappear during the day? Could you not find them toward the end of the day? These could be signs that either they are interviewing or have become apathetic toward their job. The absence or lateness could be a reaction to feeling unhappy and dissatisfied and they are finding it increasingly hard to get into the office and accomplish their work.

5) Starts Complaining
Do you have an employee who rarely complained, but is now complaining a lot more? That’s a big red flag. Something has gotten under that person’s skin and she isn’t happy. Find out what’s wrong. If you don’t, you may be replacing more than one person, if her attitude starts rubbing off on her co-workers.

6) Loses A Close Friend
If someone on your staff leaves, and he has a close friend in the office, guess what? You may be replacing two people. Often, it’ll happen because the employee who left will actively recruit his friend to join him at his new company.

7) Becomes Isolated
If the person isn’t recruited by her friend as in No. 8, then the employee may start to isolate herself. If your employee is checking out, she may not feel the need to continue cultivating personal relationships at work. If this happens, it’s a good idea to approach her and talk about it.

8) Friction Among Employees
Have you noticed that one of your best employees is butting heads a lot with another employee? If so, it may behoove you to find out what’s going on and help resolve the matter. If the relationship if left to fester and become toxic, it may cost you a valuable employee.

9) Reassigns Tasks To Others
Is one of your team players suddenly delegating his work to others? He may know something you don’t, like he’s interviewing for a new job. Unless you’ve authorized the reassignments, call him on it. It’s your right to find out why he is lessening his workload. Maybe it’s a medical issue or maybe he’s got one foot out the door already.

10) Reduced Output
When someone is moving on like in No. 11, she starts reducing her production levels. So when you notice that a good employee is no longer participating in meetings or offering to help with extra assignments, it’s time to investigate.

It may seem like a lot to keep your eye on all of this, but it’s a lot less work than finding new star employees!

To get help, connect with the person who’s got his finger on the office’s pulse. Every office has one or two people who know just about everything that’s going on. Identify who that is and ask him to let you know if he thinks any key employee is unhappy and/or looking for a new job.

Even though you probably never thought that one of your jobs as a manager was to identify star employees getting ready to jump ship, it’s in your best interest to periodically review your staff for people who may be looking to move on.

Sit down with them and talk, see what’s going on in their heads. If you can change a few minds, it’ll save your company a lot of money and you a lot of time!

Check out my related post: How to hire the best candidate for the job?

Interesting reads:

10 thoughts on “How do you know an employee is going to quit?

  1. This is why coaching sessions are so important! It allows management to motivate employees based on their own goals. It brings a sense of purpose to work. At my last job, when I put in my notice, upper management was shocked—crazy, because I was stressed out, feeling over worked and under appreciated. Had someone had step in and said, “Hey! We appreciate you covering your fellow managers vacations. Why don’t you take a day for yourself to recover?” instead of bitching at me about what else needs to be done, I may have still been there. I felt like my previous job was indecent and I’d rather work elsewhere.

    In my experience, the most tell tale sign is the shift in behavior, then absenteeism. I know real sickness from job interview sickness! 🤣

    Great post!

    Dom |

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally agree Dom. Really good example. At work, we serve as colleagues and also friends. It is important to hear them out and motivate everyone. But in your case, they really should have figured it out! And it’s a shame because you seem to like your job and that a simple thing like taking a vacation would have helped.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Depending. My fear is that some employers might require the staff to be present. Out of sight, out of mind. But WFH allow the employer to also better measure the number of staff require to deliver the outcomes.


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