7 Common Signs an Employee is About to Quit

Are you worried that one of your star employees is about to jump ship? Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly 4.4 million people quit their job in January 2022, proving that the Great Resignation isn’t slowing down anytime soon — so your fears are not unwarranted.

If you want to increase employee retention and reduce your turnover rate, it’s important to recognize the red flags and telltale signs that signal an employee’s impending departure.

Even if you’re too late to persuade them to stay, you can not only prepare to find new employees but also work to prevent team members from leaving in the future.

7 Signs an Employee is About to Quit

1. Taking More Time Off Than Usual

An employee who is looking for new opportunities is likely to take more time off than usual. They might use vacation time to attend job interviews or orientation days with other companies since these will usually take place during working hours. Before an employee quits, they might try to “use up” the rest of their vacation time or sick days if they have a lot left. And if a negative work environment or company culture causes burnout or impacts their mental health, they might try to avoid coming in as much as possible before quitting.

Furthermore, such employees may start inquiring more about the details of their leave benefits or suddenly take interest in the specifics of the company’s leave policies. An increase in last-minute time-off requests or a pattern of leave-taking that deviates from their norm can be additional signs of a disengaging employee.

2. Being Reluctant to Commit to Long-term Projects

Did one of your high-performing employees seem hesitant to take on a new long-term project? Employees who are planning to leave their current job and start a new position aren’t going to take on huge new commitments — but they probably won’t want to tell you why. If a staff member is a team player who’s usually keen to take on extra responsibilities but suddenly shows resistance, that lack of employee engagement could be a warning sign that they’ll be leaving soon.

This shift might also manifest in their decreased participation in team meetings or reluctance to contribute to discussions about the future of the company. They may start delegating critical tasks to others or show a diminished interest in professional development opportunities, which are often linked to long-term career growth within the company.

3. Getting More Active on Linkedin

Research shows that 92% of recruiters use social media to find good employees, and many employees are aware of this trend. Thus, a sudden increase in LinkedIn activity can be a sign that a staff member is considering a change. They might update their work history, connect with individuals from other organizations, or add new skills to their profile.

While not everyone who refreshes their LinkedIn is necessarily job hunting, a notable spike in such activities warrants attention. Additionally, if an employee starts engaging more with content related to career development or industry news, or if they become more active in professional groups, these could further indicate their interest in exploring new job opportunities.

4. Avoiding Work Social Events

Work social events, often planned well in advance, can become less appealing to employees contemplating a move to a different company. For instance, an employee who hesitates to commit to a significant event like the annual Christmas party, especially if it’s scheduled months ahead, might be doing so because they anticipate not being with the company by that time. Furthermore, their avoidance might extend to smaller, more casual gatherings such as team lunches, happy hours, or company-wide celebrations.

This withdrawal from social interactions at work can be due to their desire to avoid conversations about their future at the company or other potentially uncomfortable discussions with managers and colleagues about long-term plans and commitments.

5. Going Through a Major Life Change

Major life changes can often prompt a reevaluation of career choices. Employees experiencing significant personal events such as relocating, marriage, divorce, or parenthood might consider quitting for a job that better suits their new circumstances. These life events can shift their financial needs or require different working hours. For instance, a new parent may seek a higher salary to support their family or more flexible hours to accommodate childcare.

Similarly, someone who has moved might look for opportunities closer to their new home or with a different commuting pattern. These changes can make employees more receptive to new opportunities that align better with their altered lifestyle and priorities.

6. Taking More Personal Calls

Increased personal calls during work hours can be indicative of an employee engaging in job search activities. Interviews and follow-up calls with prospective employers often happen during the workday. An uptick in such calls, especially if taken in private or away from the workstation, can signal that an employee is actively pursuing other job opportunities.

Additionally, this pattern might relate to major life events, aligning with the need for a job change. It’s important to note that while occasional personal calls are normal, a consistent and noticeable increase should be observed with consideration to privacy and professionalism.

7. Making Unrealistic Requests

When an employee suddenly asks for a significant raise or an unexpected promotion, it might indicate they are weighing their options outside the company. This behavior often stems from feeling undervalued or believing that their current role does not offer adequate growth opportunities. In some cases, this can be a strategic move; if the employee has another offer in hand, they might use it as leverage to negotiate better terms with their current employer.

However, if their demands are unrealistic or out of sync with the company’s norms and practices, it could be a sign that they are ready to move on and are testing the waters for what they can achieve before making a final decision.

What to Do if You Suspect an Employee is About to Quit

There are plenty of things you can do to decrease employee turnover, whether it’s to keep the employee in question from leaving or learning from the experience and preventing it from happening in the future.

Talk to the Employee

A simple conversation can go a long way. If a team member has taken the time to find another job, there’s a reason for it. Sit down with them and give them a chance to express their concerns. You might find that even a minor tweak in things like employee benefits or work hours will convince them to stay.

For example, they could be leaving because of a scheduling issue. A small change to the way you assign shifts could be all it takes to persuade them to stick around. Homebase helps you optimize your schedule and reduce confusion so you can make smarter decisions that benefit your entire team.

Provide Growth Opportunities

Studies show that 82% of employees will quit their job if there is a “lack of career advancement opportunities.”

Instead of looking outside your company to hire for management and other upper-level positions, give your existing team a chance to prove themselves and take on the roles. And even if you can’t promote them, provide more opportunities by increasing their responsibilities.

You can also work with each employee to understand what their goals are. For example, your receptionist may eventually want to transition out of customer service and into accounting. Map out the steps they need to take to get there and build a rough timeline.

Address Employee Burnout

Burnout can be a huge trigger for employees to look for another job — and studies show that burnout has only gotten worse over the course of the pandemic.

First, make consistent team communication a priority so you can address potential burnout head-on before it becomes an issue. Conduct surveys, hold regular one-on-one meetings and use a tool like Homebase’s team messaging app to keep a constant pulse on how your employees are feeling.

When signs of burnout occur, encourage that employee to take a mental health day or incorporate “brain breaks” that allow them to step away from their workstation and take a breather.


By looking out for the signs above, you’ll be able to identify potential issues and do what you can to rectify them. Even if you lose a team member, your human resources department should set up an exit interview to learn from the experience and improve your retention strategy for the future.

Homebase can improve your retention strategy by increasing team communication, creating transparency with up-to-date scheduling, and providing perks like early access to wages.

And if you are experiencing an increase in employee turnover, Homebase can help you find qualified replacements quickly. You can use pre-written job descriptions to get your job listed on the top online job boards in just a few minutes.

Signs an employee is about to quit FAQs

homebase customer photo homebase customer photo

How do you know when an employee is about to quit?

There are many red flags that indicate an employee is about to quit. These include taking off more time than usual, being reluctant to start long-term projects, avoiding work social events, and more.

What is the number 1 reason employees quit?

A recent study found that the largest reason employees are quitting during the Great Resignation is toxic workplace culture.

How do you tell if an employee is looking for another job?

Signs an employee is looking for new job opportunities include an updated LinkedIn page, an increase in personal calls on the job, unrealistic requests, and more.

Remember: This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

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