7 Signs Your Employee Is Heading Out the Door … and Not Coming Back Anytime Soon

One in three employees has had serious thoughts about quitting in the past 90ish days, according to one 2019 study. Are yours?

7 Signs Your Employee Is Heading Out the Door … and Not Coming Back Anytime Soon

One in three employees has had serious thoughts about quitting in the past 90ish days, according to one 2019 study. Are yours?

If your small business employees are thinking about quitting, they’re more than likely not going to tell you. Instead, they’ll check into polishing their resumes and mentally check out of the office.

Want to know if your employees are daydreaming about quitting? If so, you might need to bust out your sleuthing skills. Although there could be many reasons for some common pre-quitting behaviors, it doesn’t hurt to tune into them.

7 Signs your employee is going to quit

There are a number of things that could cause an employee to quit. Here are just a few reasons employees move on:

  • Absence of career path
  • Disconnect with the job
  • Lack of employee development
  • Poor relationship with bosses and/or co-workers
  • Desire for better pay and/or benefits
  • Need or desire to relocate

Whatever the reason, losing star employees is nothing short of expensive. Your hiring and training costs to find their replacements are likely going to be up in the thousands. Not to mention, the drop in morale and productivity is going to cost you, too.

In short: being blindsided by a top employee’s (seemingly) random departure can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Instead, pay attention to your employee’s not-so-secret telltale signs of wanting to quit. That way, you can either do what you can to change their mind or prepare for their separation.

Plus, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? Here are some things to watch out for.

1. There’s a dip in the employee’s engagement

Engagement tends to eb and flow the longer someone works for a business. In fact, only 34% of U.S. employees are engaged, according to Gallup. But if you notice sudden and continual dips in engagement, your worker may be ready to call it quits.

What are some characteristics of disengagement? Boredom. Lethargy. Isolation. These are just some of the things a disengaged employee may be feeling.

If you notice the following, your employee’s engagement might be dwindling:

  • Not as excited about work
  • No longer participates in work-related or social activities
  • Not as much of a team player
  • Contributes less in meetings
  • Fails to come up with innovative ideas

So, do employees become disengaged before or after they decide to quit? It’s the classic chicken vs. egg debate.

More often than not, employees become disengaged with their work and then decide to look for other employment. And if you want to try to reverse the damage, you can try to improve employee engagement levels.

2. Your employee’s absenteeism rate is spiking

Is there a sudden uptick in the number of days your employee is calling off work? You might be dealing with an employee’s who apathy for being at your business is at an all-time high.

Maybe the employee is skipping work to polish up their LinkedIn profile or resume. Maybe they don’t care enough to work anymore, so they’re lounging around at home. Or just maybe, they’re out taking interviews where the grass is greener.

Whatever the case may be, an increase in the number of workdays your employee randomly calls off could be a sign they’re preparing to submit their letter of resignation.

3. Long-term projections aren’t so long-term anymore

Do your employees say things like: I’m going on vacation in a few months, could I put in my PTO for that week? or how about: I’ll spearhead that six-month project.

If your employee is thinking about quitting, you might not have heard the above for a while.

An employee on the brink of leaving probably isn’t thinking about long-term commitments at your business. They may even be using up their paid vacation days because they won’t need to save them.

Pay attention to whether an employee stops planning things out in advance. If they no longer talk about long-term projects or future plans, there might be a reason.

4. Their feedback isn’t looking so hot

Nobody likes a complainer. Constant negativity is toxic and annoying. If an employee is always bashing everything about your business and their workload, you may have a problem.

Not only does this show that they might be leaving your business (and maybe you want them to at this point!), but it also cultivates an unpleasant work environment.

Employees might provide negative feedback about new employer policies, their work, their pay, or interactions with co-workers or customers.

Although negative feedback on employee surveys and during performance reviews are obvious signs that an employee is disgruntled, they’re not the only ones. Pay attention to whether the employee’s everyday comments have taken a turn for the worse.

5. The employee’s physical appearance is changing

The general assumption is that an employee about to quit may start dressing better to slip out to interviews. But more often than not, that disengagement and apathy results in a different change in their physical appearance.

If an employee starts dressing down, showering less, or failing to keep up with typical hygiene, you may have a problem on your hands. Your employee’s lack of caring may signify they’re thinking about quitting.

But then again, it could show they’ve gotten comfortable with your business … too comfortable.

6. They’re frustrated

A change in the employee’s general disposition can also be a hint that something’s brewing. An employee who feels frustrated, undervalued, or disrespected probably won’t stick around much longer.

Some frustrations might be a result of the employee carrying their personal life into the workplace. That’s why you need to ask yourself: Did something happen at work recently?

A few things that might frustrate an employee include:

  • Bad relationships with other employees
  • Something they voiced concerns about not changing
  • Angry customers
  • Poor processes in the workplace
  • Stagnant pay or responsibilities (e.g., not getting promoted)

If an employee is frustrated, they may not join in on the conversation anymore. They may stop laughing at or making jokes. They might isolate themselves during breaks when they used to get together with fellow employees. Or maybe they’ll even start conflict in the workplace.

7. Something happened in their personal life

It’s not always about work. Another sign that an employee is thinking about quitting could be them undergoing a change in their personal life.

Some life events that may instigate an employee’s departure from your business include getting married or divorced, having kids, taking care of sick relatives, or moving.

About the Author

Rachel Blakely Gray

Rachel Blakely-Gray is a content writer at Patriot Software, LLC. Patriot Software offers online accounting and payroll software for small business owners. At Patriot, she enjoys providing actionable, growth-oriented information for small business owners.

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