Part of being a boss is knowing your employees well. You need to know when they are happy, when they are upset, when they need help, when they need a challenge and eventually when they are planning to quit. This knowledge will enable you to prepare for an unexpected outcome and limit any potential damage. You should have a strong sense of observation to detect changes in the attitude and behavior of your employees. Some warning signs that an employee is about to quit are pretty obvious, while others may require a good sense of judgment from you.
As quoted from Forbes, “Employees generally have a sense when their jobs are at risk,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job. “There’s usually a negative change in behavior by their bosses and even others in the know. The problem is discerning whether this change is due to outside influences, or you.”
Therefore, it is important for you to know what the warning signs are and the reasons behind them. You may prevent a productive employee from leaving, or you may be able to handle the situation productively when they put in the notice. Either way, being informed of your employee’s behaviors is an important aspect of being a manager and one that you should not neglect. So, what are the common signs that your employee is planning to quit? Here are 8 warning signs that experts point out.
They Stop Participating Proactively
When a usually charged, eager, and proactive employee starts staying silent, giving less input, and generally agrees with everything being discussed in a meeting, it is a sign that you should not ignore. Employees who are planning to quit show less interest in work. They may also find meetings to be meaningless and may not want to contribute to the discussion as they would generally do. If you notice this sign, don’t hesitate to take it up with them in a one-on-one meeting (this is why weekly meetings are important). However, instead of passing negative comments about their lack of input, ask them if they are dealing with any problems? Ask them if they are happy and if there is anything you can do to help them enjoy work? Tell them you see a change in their behavior and would like to know if there is anything happening that could be causing it. Show you care and you may prevent a valuable employee from leaving the organization.
They Begin to Take Days Off
If you notice a sudden increase in half-days or full days offs, it may be a sign that an employee is going for interviews or no longer cares about the job. Employees want to take advantage of the year leaves that are entitled to them and so when they are about to leave, they’ll be making sure to use the time available to them. You’ll see repeat requests for dental work, sick leaves, or unannounced leaves in a time-span of one or two months. This is a red flag and should be reviewed with the employee regardless of their intention to quit or not. Too many leaves may cause unnecessary strain on other members of the team. Therefore, any more than three missed days in a month should be a matter of discussion.
A Change in Attitude
If an employee is planning to leave because of a negative experience at work, you’ll notice a change in attitude. They may begin to criticize policies more than usual, pick arguments or may even get disgruntled. On the other hand, some may begin to be more serious than usual and may not participate much in office discussions. Any unusual change in attitude reflects an underlying behavior or thought process that a boss should understand and try to resolve. It may be the result of an unsatisfying workplace, a personal problem or of a difficult boss. Ignoring this red flag may result in a disgruntled employee who will definitely not say good things about the company.
They Begin to Work Half-heartedly
Missed deadlines? Below quality work? Half-hearted attitude to projects? Even if these are not signs of quitting, they are signs of an unsatisfied or troubled employee. When people begin to detest a workplace, they begin to slack. An unusually productive employee may start missing deadlines. A careful employee may start making careless mistakes. An active employee may start procrastinating. Now, this is not always the pattern with those who leave on a positive note. It’s often a pattern for those who dislike their current workplace. So, if you have employees who are exhibiting these traits before leaving a place, then you need to figure out the causes. Neglecting a slacking employee is bad for the organization and the team.
They Show lack of Interest in Long-term Projects
Once an employee decides to leave, they may stop investing their time and energy in long-term projects. Annual targets or success ratios no longer interest them and they don’t really care about any long-term incentives. They would even resist being part of a long-term project for fear of getting involved in something they cannot complete. While others at the company may be actively discussing quarterly goals, these employees may be distant, cold, and avoid giving input or feedback. Their lack of interest reflects in their behavior towards discussions of company goals or team objectives. If you have a keen sense of observation, you’ll immediately notice a change in the input quality of the employee and a resistance in their behavior.
They Don’t Care About Company Issues
When employees decide to leave, problems in the company no longer affect them. They are less bothered about the drop-in bonuses, ROIs, client referrals, etc. And if you happen to address these issues with them, they won’t really give any kind of constructive feedback. You’ll be left with shrugging shoulders or, ‘I don’t know how that’d work out,’ answers for any problem tossed over. All they would be worried about is if the new policies would affect their gratuity or their exit package if they were to leave. They may also be courageous enough to casually ask you about post-exit questions, which is a clear indicator of their intentions to quit.
Making Changes on Social Media
A dead LinkedIn platform suddenly resurrecting? It's not always an obvious sign, but one that is close to the probability of an employee planning to quit. However, some employees are smart and may not add their bosses or colleagues on LinkedIn, but those who do often forget about it. So, if you see your employee commenting on job posts, adding HR managers or being generally active on the network, then you can assume they are planning to leave. If this is an employee you want to keep with you, then schedule for a one-on-one and get to know their current status at work. However, don’t make the mistake of probing their online activities. Don’t taunt or tease them over what they do online. Keep your conversations real and focused on their roles and responsibilities in the organization and whether they enjoy working for the company. You still have a chance at preventing the employee from leaving.
They Remain Isolated
Finally, one of the most prominent indicators of an employee quitting is their isolation from team members. They no longer want to go on team lunches, they don’t converse much with others, and they appear distant in team meetings. If you find your employees appearing aloof and simply nodding heads absent-mindedly during meetings or general office discussions, then know that they are either planning to leave or they have some underlying problem bothering them. It may be strange but when employees decide to quit, they check out emotionally as well. So, the guy who was once buddy buddy with everyone is now coming in late, talking less, taking off days, and simply not interested in company activities.
These tell-tale signs are important for a boss to note and understand. Regardless of whether the company wants the resource or not, these signs should be taken into account and discussed in meetings. They may sometimes also indicate frustration with the job, some major changes at home or a personal problem that the employee may be afraid to discuss. Be there for your employees and watch as they contribute to the growth of the organization.