8 Ways to Tell Your Employee is About to Quit

Ilya Pozin via LinkedIn

Oct 28 2014

Here’s something you already know: Employee turnover can be expensive. In fact, for a mid-level employee, it can cost as much as 150 percent of their annual salary to replace them.

This is to say nothing of how long the hiring process takes, how difficult it can be to onboard a new person, and how long it may take the new employee to get up to speed. A 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey has shown it can take up to a full year for a newly onboarded employee to work up to their full potential in 30 percent of companies.

With the high cost of losing your best people, you need to be aware and attuned to the signs your workforce is envisioning greener pastures. If you think your workers are perfectly happy and wouldn’t dream of leaving, think again. According to a Gallup poll, a shocking 70 percent of the American workforce is disengaged on the job.

Recognize the signs and take steps to intervene when you notice some of your best and brightest shining a little less brightly. These entrepreneurs share their eight warning signs that your employees might be halfway out the door:


1. Taking Extra Time Off

If an employee who usually has a good attendance record suddenly begins taking time off or missing work, they could be looking for something else. I think it is best to address the situation openly and honestly. Ask if they are happy in their current situation and if there is anything that can be done to improve their position at the company. – Phil Laboon, Eyeflow Internet Marketing

phil chen

2. Vagueness

Employees who are the most passionate and engaged are very concerned with details. When big, exciting strategic conversations are developing, they are the ones that actively think, “OK, what little things do we need to do to make this work?” This stuff is the hard part. People who are not going to be with your company for the long term are not interested in pushing themselves. – Adam Stillman, SparkReel


3. Sudden Delegation of Responsibilities

Delegation of responsibilities is important in certain management roles, but it can also be a telltale sign of non-management employees about to quit. Long-time employees take pride in their responsibilities. Giving their responsibilities away could be a sign that they are transitioning out. When you see these signs — and more importantly, before you see them — you should provide consistent positive communication. – Phil Chen, Systems Watch


4. Change in Schedule or Routine

When current employees are looking for jobs, they make sudden changes in their schedule, usually to accommodate interviews. You’ll also see them start to dress better and take less interest in company activities. When you see this, you should proactively make the decision to either replace them or fight to keep them. If you chose the latter, you’ll need to be prepared with a better offer. – Mark Cenicola, BannerView.com


5. Beginning to Disengage

I imagine disengagement would be a key warning sign. If they don’t participate vigorously in discussions or work with a sense of urgency or a fire in their belly, they might not be content in their role. I’d immediately address it to learn more about the situation. Ignoring it won’t do any good in the long run. – Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture


6. Employees Mention Signs

If someone is getting ready to leave, you will hear about it because their co-workers will start complaining about their performance, or hint that something is afoot. This is the best indication I need to pull them aside and talk with them. Sometimes people get burnt out and want something else. I would rather someone do something they are happy with than stay and be upset. – Jon Cline, Rokit SEO


7. Change in Attitude

A change in attitude is typically the sign that a long-time employee is about to leave, which you should quickly address by meeting with them. If they do quit because of another offer and the reasons for their departure can be fixed, counter offer quickly with a distinct change in responsibilities and salary. Never fight for an employee who doesn’t genuinely want to be at your company. – Brian Honigman, BrianHonigman.com


8. Soft Social Cues

Whenever someone is struggling with their employment situation, they can’t hide the conflict in their face or body language. They adopt shifty eyes, their smiles seem more forced, they don’t laugh as easily. As someone’s livelihood is of paramount importance to them, the emotions involved are strong enough to make deception unlikely. – Brennan White, Cortex

These are the top results from a survey of entrepreneurs on the topic of recognizing employee unhappiness, provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.

Image courtesy of Benjamin Ragheb , Flickr

About Ilya Pozin:

Serial entrepreneur, writer and investor. Founder of Pluto.TV, Open Me, and Ciplex. Writer for Forbes and Inc. Husband 1x, father 2x, entrepreneur 3x. Follow Ilya below to stay up-to-date.

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