Top signs an employee is about to quit

The job market fluctuates just as much and as quickly as any other area in our busy, unpredictable society. Locating, hiring, and retaining quality employees can be a challenging undertaking for companies of all sizes. With many factors to consider, it can be difficult to fully satisfy what an employee needs to feel fulfilled in their position on a daily basis and hopefully, across a long span of time.

But what happens when employees begin to display signs of losing interest or “checking out” from the day-to-day? If you suspect your employees may be on the lookout for their next opportunity, you may still have time to help them work through it and keep them on board. If you pay close enough attention, there are many signs that can easily be noticed before any actions are taken. Here’s what you should be looking for if you think an employee may have one foot out the door.

Blowing Through Accumulated Paid Time Off
Vacation time, sick leave, and even family emergencies are all commonplace for any type of employee to take. Typically, a stable, full-time employee will spread out their paid time off across the year so as to ration it out over an extended period of time. An alarm should go off in your mind if a particular employee takes multiple days off, clustered together, and with a sense of urgency. The employee may want to suddenly use all their days without intention. Unless there is a valid reason, this may signal that the employee is looking to cash in on all their paid time off before they make their actual departure and lose the value of those days.

The time of year the days are being request can also be an indicator of future actions. Many employees use their time off towards the end of the year and during holidays before they expire. A request at the beginning of the year may be a warning of a sudden departure.

Disengaged Behaviour
Upon being hired, most employees generally appear to be happy and excited at the opportunity to be a new addition to a successful organisation. They are eager to complete their tasks, willing to participate in office activities, and take on their role as a team member with stride. The shift comes when they begin to disengage.

When the levels of input, communication, and quality begin to take a sharp turn downward, it may be a clear sign of the employee disconnecting from and eventually leaving their position. Less interaction, less initiative, and less productivity can be signs of dissatisfaction at the workplace. The role can still be salvaged if the issues are addressed, but many times, this type of employee is already mentally checked out and looking toward their next move.

Verbally Expressing Unhappiness
One of the clearest, telltale signs of an employee that may be considering leaving their current position is when they begin to verbally display signs of unhappiness. Sure, every employee has bad or stressful days, but the difference in a bad day and a disconnect is evident in the severity of the language.

Water cooler talk, negative comments made during annual reviews, and even social media content can all be places where a disgruntled employee shows signs of unhappiness. They will complain about their tasks, the work environment, or even management in an attempt to deflect their own involvement in the decline of their satisfaction. If the issues are superficial, they can be mended. If not, more likely than not, this employee is looking to exit.

Preoccupied with Other Activities
A small, easily unnoticeable change in behaviour and activity can be a clue that an employee may be planning to leave. Changes in their daily tasks may be an insight into where their attention may lie. Constant outside phone calls, sneaking around to ensure conversations are kept private, and even a change in attire can show signs of the employee participating in interviews, job inquiries, and interest in other positions. If they are looking elsewhere or are being pulled in another direction, their attention will be split. It will become increasingly evident that they’re not all in anymore, but actually stepping out slowly but surely.

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