Human Resources News & Insights

7 warning signs a great employee’s about to quit

We all want to hold onto our best, brightest employees. And sometimes, a key component of that retention effort is being able to recognize when they’re trying to locate greener pastures and finding ways to increase their loyalty.

But what you need to know first are the red flags that indicate an employee is conducting such a search.

Training software company Mindflash recently compiled a list of the red flags employers should be on the lookout for:

1. Sloppy work habits

signs an employee will quitChances are your best employees consistently complete top-quality work on deadline. So it should be easy to spot when their work starts to slip.

An occasional slip-up could mean nothing. What should concern you are prolonged lapses in quality or efficiency.

This could be a sign the employee has grown tired of their work and disengaged from the company.

Also, if an always-punctual employee starts showing up and leaving early on a regular basis, it’s time to be worried.

2. Ties start appearing

signs an employee will quitIf an employee who usually dresses casual suddenly starts wearing a tie a few times a week — and they’re not attending after-hours charity banquets — it’s a warning sign that something may be up.

Sure, it’s possible they just “upgraded their wardrobe” or want to “change things up,” but it’s far more likely they’re dressing up to interview elsewhere.

This, combined with No. 3, is a clear-cut sign the employee’s planning to jump ship — and is closing in on that point.

3. Keeping odd hours

signs an employee will quitLeaving early, arriving late or requesting random days off at the last second should have you worried, especially if they’ve always been a model citizen who’s given you plenty of notice before missing time.

Abnormal time-off requests could also be a symptom of trying to use up any remaining paid-time-off before abandoning ship.

4. Isolation

signs an employee will quitAn employee who covers up personal calls on work time and takes frequent trips away from his or her desk to seek solitude are signs there could be cause for alarm.

The employee may be fielding calls from or making calls to headhunters.

Of course, it may be that they have a personal issue they’re dealing with. So you don’t want to jump to conclusions. But continued strange behavior like this is a troubling sign in that it likely means either personal issues are conflicting with work or they’ve got one foot out the door.

5. Out-of-character complaining

signs an employee will quitIf a once happy employee suddenly develops a surly personality and begins complaining about co-workers, this is a not-so-subtle hint that something’s amiss.

This is troubling for two reasons:

  • It shows that the employee has become disenchanted with his or her work — or the employer itself, and
  • His or her grumblings could lead other employees to become malcontents.

6. Big life changes

signs an employee will quitThe birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, marriage, divorce and a sudden illness requiring on-going medical treatment are all big life changes that could alter one’s career.

Also, these all present opportunities to sit down with the employee and engage him or her in a conversation about future work plans.

Failing to do so could find you scrambling to fill a big, unexpected vacancy.

7. Less interaction with co-workers

signs an employee will quitIf an employee appears to be distancing himself or herself from co-workers, it could be a sign the person’s already checked out and decided there’s no need to continue to feed personal or work relationships.

If all of the sudden meetings start passing by without so much as a word from a normally vocal employee, it may be time to approach them to see if something’s wrong.

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