Warning Signs of When an Employee is About to Leave

signs of when an employee is about to leave

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Good employees are among your most important business assets. It’s not just the hard work and dedication they bring to the table, but the fact that they represent significant investments in training to your business. While you can replace many employees, doing so requires time and money. Rather than losing time trying to bring in new team members, it’s often better to try to retain the employees you have. The best way to do so is to learn how to identify the warning signs of when an employee is about to leave, and figuring out how to ensure such situations don’t occur in the future.

Signs of when an employee is about to leave

Knowing when an employee is getting ready to leave your business is as much a matter of being able to read individuals as it is a matter of knowing business trends. While the vast majority of your employees won’t – and often can’t – stick around forever, there are a few that you may be able to work with before things reach their natural conclusion. Below are a few of the signs that an employee is on the verge of walking out the door.

Adhering to patterns

The days of staying at one company for an entire career are long since over. Most workers move between jobs at a fairly regular rate for several reasons. Some want to stave off the boredom that comes from keeping the same position for years, while others might be in fields that require mobility in order to advance. Even if it’s not intentional, there are some workers who will change jobs like clockwork – so always be on the lookout for employee movement during these times of change.

Recognizing patterns is usually a good way to predict turnover in general. Certain seasons, for example, will experience more turnover because of young employees going back to school, or the ending of projects. If your employees start to exhibit some of the behaviors listed here during those time periods, it might be a good idea to meet with them to figure out their next moves. While you can’t stop them from leaving, you may be able to figure out why they have chosen to move on from your company.

signs of when an employee is about to leave

Changes in attitude

It’s very common for employees who are looking to leave a business to have a change in their attitude. The stereotype is that these employees no longer care, so they’ll become a bit more surly or more prone to slacking off during the workday. They may well become insubordinate or hard to deal with simply because they no longer care about their place in the overall corporate hierarchy. While this behavior is less common towards the top of the ladder, it is very common among rank-and-file employees.

Negative changes might be stereotypical, but it’s just as likely that an employee will change in the other direction. He or she might become more pleasant or easy-going because they aren’t as emotionally invested in the outcome of certain actions within the company. Those that frequently butt heads with supervisors might suddenly stop resisting, as they know that their energy will be better spent elsewhere. If your employee’s personality experiences an abrupt shift, there’s a very good chance that he or she is already looking to work somewhere else. Addressing the issues may or may not help, but it will give you a better idea of what the employee is going to do next.


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New activities

Employees who are searching for new jobs often start to undertake new activities. They may, for example, start to be far more interested in attending conferences or workshops that will make him or her more visible to potential employers. Likewise, they might be constantly updating their profile on sites like LinkedIn to appear more attractive to the competition. When this happens, you can be sure that your employee is looking at job postings elsewhere and is using his or her time at work to make sure that they can secure a better job in the future.

New activities aren’t limited to those in the workplace. Your employee may, for example, suddenly become much more likely to take personal calls or to call in sick. It’s not that he or she doesn’t respect your business, but rather that the employee has already mentally separated their future plans from what’s going on now. What’s important has become the next potential job, so their current one will take a backseat. Any employee who suddenly starts to have a very different type of attendance pattern is experiencing a change, so be on the lookout for this kind of behavior.

signs of when an employee is leaving

Avoiding the long-term

Employees who are on their way out rarely want to discuss their long-term plans with anyone else. When a project with a far-future deadline is brought up, for example, they may seem very non-committal. They may also try to avoid the subject when it comes to anything that’s more than a few months away, even if the topic of discussion is as innocuous as the company’s softball team.

It’s not too difficult to figure out why this change occurs, of course. The employee in question is no longer looking at the company as a long-term place of work, so he or she doesn’t want to make any commitments that can’t be honored. This may extend to a drop in perceived ambition, as well – because the employee is planning on moving on, they may no longer be interested in chances to climb the corporate ladder or improve their position within the firm. If you have an ambitious employee who suddenly stops engaging in the usual office politics, there’s a good chance that he or she is already looking for a different job.

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to the behavior of your employees. If you can identify behavioral changes that adhere to certain patterns, you may be able to anticipate when certain valuable members of your team are beginning to search for new employment options. While you may not be able to stop them from leaving, you may be able to learn lessons that will help you to prevent others from doing so. If you are concerned about employee retention or just want to make sure that you’re providing the best environment for your workers, make sure to contact Paytech today. Our HR pros look forward to answering any questions you may have, and are always ready to research a solution designed specifically for your business.


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