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7 Signs Your Employees are About to Quit

Many employers are thrown into a tailspin, but it isn't inevitable.

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Not all employee turnover is bad, but according to a recent survey by Microsoft, more than 40% of workers are considering leaving their jobs this year. In addition, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, four million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021, and we saw a record-breaking 10.9 million job vacancies at the end of July. This level of attrition has top talent walking out the door in many workplaces.

Related: How to Create a Winning Employee Retention Strategy ...

Instead of being surprised when top employees resign, look for early signs of turnover and take action. 

These seven early indicators will alert you before a resignation letter hits your inbox. 

1. Unrealistic requests 

A large salary increase request or promotion out of the blue typically signals your employee has been considering other career options or feels undervalued. As a result, it is common for people to throw up a Hail Mary, telling themselves if the organization meets an outlandish request, it’s a reason to stay.

2. Vagueness about future commitments

A sure-fire way to assess long-term commitment is to ask about future workplace events or initiatives in detail. For example, suppose you have an upcoming employee offsite or large project a few months away. If an employee is not planning on sticking around, they will likely avoid getting into conversations about the event or project in any detail.

3. Office housekeeping

When good employees have one foot out the door, they often plan for what their replacement will see when they come in. They will be organizing files, following up on outstanding items and documenting work processes. This organizing serves two purposes: not letting the company down and keeping their reputation intact. They may even slowly remove personal items from their office, which is a sure-fire sign of emotionally disengaging.

4. Closed-door meetings

Most often, when an employee quits, they tell at least one co-worker and sometimes more. If you see more frequent closed-door meetings or offsite lunches, they may be discussing an exit. As an employer, you may also find the exiting employee’s friends avoid getting into direct conversations with you to avoid answering any difficult questions or appearing disloyal.

5. Avoiding the boss

Top performers often have a good relationship with their boss for obvious reasons and don’t want to let them down or be forced into a little white lie. Hence, avoiding the boss altogether is a dead giveaway when someone is looking for a new position.

6. Change in habits

Has your top employee changed any office habits recently? Are they coming into work later or leaving earlier? Perhaps they no longer respond to evening or weekend texts until the next day. Even sharpening up their office wardrobe or grooming habits can signal a change is imminent. This behavior is further reinforced by offsite or offline periods during the work day when they may be interviewing for another position. 

7. Social media and networking activity

Perhaps the most noticeable change is when someone updates their LinkedIn profile and becomes more active in work or industry-related social media discussions or in-person events. Many employees don’t realize their employer may notice when they make new connections with recruiters or start following executive search firms and often start rapidly increasing their connections. 

To stop unwanted turnover before it starts, understand the critical issues from your top performers and the people you want to retain. Don’t make the common mistake of assuming the problem is money alone; it is frequently a factor but rarely a primary driver for a person to resign. Instead, you must identify the real root cause of discontent and implement specific solutions. Common strategies include regular recognition, investment in personal development, career progression and improved communication. 

Related: Improve Employee Retention By Taking a People-First Approach

The single best defense against losing top talent is an open dialogue with your top performers and regularly asking them why they keep working for you. By conducting these stay interviews, you will better understand what engages and motivates your key team members.  

Related: Employee Retention: 4 Tips to Help Keep Your Top Talent

Debby Carreau

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Entrepreneur, author, CEO and founder of Inspired HR. Debby was recently honoured for a 4th consecutive year as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women marking Debby's induction into Canada’s Top 100 Hall of Fame as the youngest inductee in history.