You should never hire employees who aren’t always looking for better opportunities and a better life. When those opportunities no longer exist in your company, they will start to show these signs.
1. Taking extra time off
When someone is calling in sick more often and are using up their vacation days all of a sudden, it is a safe conclusion they feel disengaged. They might even be using this time off to seek other employment.
2. Big life changes
A major disruption in their family life may lead them to look for new employment for a number of reasons. They may need to work closer to home, work less or in a less stressful environment.
3. Change in appearance
Regardless of the dress code at work, you might be able to notice a change. If they start dressing unusually sharp, it is quite possible they are slipping out to interviews during lunch or after work. The inverse is also true. Those that start dressing down are often unhappy and feel that others aren’t really paying attention anyway.
4. Colleagues mention signs
While you might not be able to notice the signs, those that work closest to them might notice a significate change in their behavior. No one likes to talk to the boss about a coworker, so when it happens you need to pay attention.
5. Deal with conflict differently
If an employee is always the type to push back and then they suddenly become passive, it is likely they don’t feel it is worth the effort. On the flip side, if they are normally agreeable and recently have become more argumentative it might be out of resentment or simple frustration. Either way they may have emotionally checked out.
6. Beginning to disengage
The biggest indicator that someone is planning to leave is a drop-off in their engagement at work. If you notice them offering fewer constructive contributions in meetings, acting more reserved or quiet, avoiding social interaction, demonstrating a drop in their work productivity, or a reluctance to commit to long-term projects, it may mean they are on their way out.
These are not exclusively signs someone is about to quit. They may be symptoms of something else within the work place or their personal life. When you notice these symptoms, you should check in with the employee and find out if they are having any problems you can help with. If they admit to seeking new employment, do the right thing and support them. Help them with references and transitioning out to make the next hire as smooth as possible.
An employee that is looking for new opportunities and is not willing to talk about it will more than likely read this article as “6 things to avoid when you’re about to quit.” When that is the case and you are broadsided by a goodbye you should reassess your communication problems within your culture.
Remember that waiting for these signs is a reactive stance. When you see them, it may already be too late. Employee retention and relationship management can easily be proactive.