Warning signs that an employee is looking to quit

There are plenty of indicators—some blatant and some subtle—that signal a staffer is losing interest and is seeking greener pastures. Here’s what to watch for.

Empolyee churn

What happens when the honeymoon ends?

You may have noticed that your new employees are especially excited and motivated to work hard when they start working for your company. However, over time that excitement can wear off and humdrum workdays will have them thinking about where else they could be at the moment.

Of course, this is not the only reason why an employee might leave or lose interest in a job. Perhaps the employee realizes that his skills or recent qualifications are a better fit for another job or organization. Many times employees think about leaving because they are not content with the compensation, benefits, or company work values.

Reasons aside, the first thing you are going to want to know is whether an employee is likely to leave. So, here are nine early signs that may indicate that your star employees are becoming jaded about the job:

1. They complain a lot. This is one of the most important signs to watch out for, especially if your employee always had a habit of being upfront with you. If you notice that an employee who hardly ever complained has suddenly started complaining or being verbally expressive about their unhappiness with their work, it’s a clear sign they are losing interest.

2. They stopped pitching in. There’s a flip side to the situation above. For instance, if your star employee habitually complained about how something needed to be “done right” or “done better” and suddenly stops complaining, it could mean that they’re tired of expending their energy on the job. This employee may have provided input, been an active member in meetings, or offered new ideas or new ways to do things. However, whenever such an opportunity arises, all comments and suggestions subside. In other words, they are actively “disengaged” from the job.

3. They’re strict about timing. Engaged employees who have a deep interest in their work are usually not fixated on the clock; they don’t mind clocking out late or clocking in early. Work is their focus, not the length of the workday. However, an employee who is suddenly disinterested in his work will check the clock often and may even prefer to arrive late or leave early. If this tends to increase, set up a one-on-one meeting. There may be other reasons that you ought to acknowledge.

4. They’re not keeping up. Employees who like to keep up with team work, industry trends, or company news are the employees who have in interest in the organization (or team) they work for and the direction it may be going in. However, when an employee starts losing interest in his company, he won’t go through the effort to “keep up” anymore.

5. They don’t care about raises or perks. A disinterested employee will stop caring about his contribution to the company and how the “extra effort” could lead to advancements in the organization. This employee will show no interest in raises, perks or even positive feedback. This is a very clear sign that your employee has started sending out resumes.

6. They are absent often. Apart from being strict about timing and arriving late or leaving early, an employee could simply show severe disinterest in his work by being absent more often. A lot of employees save their allotted leave for vacations or emergencies. However, an employee who is disengaging with his work will start to expend their leave a lot more often. They see no harm in “wasting” them, because they’re going to be leaving soon anyway.

7. They’re dressing up and leaving during lunch hours. This spells danger like no other signal. Employees who may be actively seeking jobs elsewhere are likely to spruce up and leave for interviews during company hours. Or perhaps they’re spending an excessive amount of time on personal calls. Because they’re most likely to get an appointment during work hours, this is something you want to keep an eye out for and discuss with them before it’s too late.

8. They are badmouthing behind your back. Your most trusted employee is one who always spreads positive comments and never indulges in gossip. However, if he’s started taking interest in office gossip, throwing deleterious feedback behind your back, it’s a clear sign that he’s going to jump the ship. You can’t expect to make this employee sit and listen to your lecture about keeping discipline in the office and prevent the looming revolution he’s planning to bring. It is better that you let him go as soon as possible, before his negative contagion taints others.

9. They have won a lottery. Believe it or not, this scenario is possible. Your employee is now filthy rich. He’s a millionaire now-or maybe won enough to pay off the mortgage-and clearly he doesn’t need to get up early in the morning for work. These people have a genuine reason to leave you and they can do so without hesitation. Though you don’t have any alternative but to let go of his hand, you can let him know that he’s welcome to rejoin if he needs a job in the future. Make sure that you two part ways on a good note.

So, what’s the next step after spotting one of these signs? Talk it out with your employee before making any assumptions. If you’re lucky, the employee may present an unexpected and resolvable reason for the unusual behavior, and you can sleep easy.

However, if you discover that the employee fervently intends to quit, try to work out a possible solution for their concerns. If the employee is still fixated on quitting, this is the point where there isn’t much you can do about it.

Just know that a disinterested employee may well be a drain on the company. In this case, your best option is to part ways on good terms and plan for a replacement.

A version of this article originally appeared on Come Recommended.


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