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7 Common signs an employee is about to quit & what to do about it

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.

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.

3. Getting more active on LinkedIn

Research shows that 92% of recruiters use social media to find good employees — and your team members probably know this. That’s why a sudden flurry of activity on LinkedIn can mean that one of your staff members is thinking about leaving. 

They might start updating their work history, connecting with people from other companies, or adding additional skills to their profile. Not everyone who updates their LinkedIn profile is looking for a new job, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on the site.

4. Avoiding work social events

Work social events are often planned a long time in advance, and employees who have their eyes on other companies might not be keen to commit. Got a staff member who’s reluctant to book a place at the Christmas party in July? It might be because they know they’ll be long gone by then.

Employees may also avoid outings like events with work friends or company dinners because they want to avoid awkward questions from managers and coworkers.

5. Going through a major life change

Major life changes in other areas of an employee’s life can trigger a change of career. If a member of staff has recently moved, gotten married or divorced, or had a child, they’re more likely to quit for a new job to increase their work-life balance.

This could be because their life change has altered their financial status, because they need different working hours than before, or simply because they’re more open to change. For example, a new parent might need a bigger wage to support their growing family and more flexible hours to work around childcare. 

6. Taking more personal calls

As mentioned, interviews will happen during normal business hours. So if an employee is making more phone calls during their shift, it could be because they’re participating in a phone interview or following up with a new business.

This could also be a sign that a larger life event is happening, which is another red flag that they could be leaving soon.

7. Making unrealistic requests

Asking for a big raise or promotion out of the blue is usually a sign that your employee is considering other options because they feel undervalued. If another business has offered them a better opportunity, they might make one last attempt to stay by requesting an outlandish upgrade.

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.

Conclusion

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

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.

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