4 Ways to Tell if Your Employee is Leaving

Posted on February 21, 2012.

With February being a big month for bonus payouts and the jobless claims at a four year low, it’s not a great time to feel overly confident and smug about thinking your top performers aren’t going anywhere.  And if you work for one of the many companies that had to cut cash bonuses or delete them altogether, you need to take a hard look at who’s at risk.  How can you tell?

  1. Complaining is replaced with apathy.  Very often, you’re highest performers are also the ones that complain the most about what’s not working.  While it might be irritating, it’s also a sign that they care enough to want things to be better. You should start worrying when employees that were previously passionate or even overly passionate about their work and the company never open their mouth about what they see wrong..
  2. Their office is overly organized.  Everyone likes to clean up their office and files after the New Year.  But there’s organizing and there’s purging.  Have they brought the recycle bin in to their office or cubicle? Are all assignments that have been hanging out there forever finally getting complete? If you really take a hard look at their surroundings, do you notice little things missing like personal photos or memorabilia?
  3. Their office door is closed more than usual.  Or if your employee works in a cubicle, they’re in a conference room more than usual.  They may tell you that it’s for a conference call or a customer issue, but it might also be a headhunter or potential new employer.
  4. Sales calling activity is almost non-existent.  If you don’t manage a sales force, you might notice that new tasks and projects are refused because of various excuses of being too busy with other work or handling a customer service issue. The bottom line is that someone who is leaving will often do everything they can to avoid taking on new work.

Of course there are people that will work hard up to the last minute and completely blindside you when they resign, but more often than not, there are red flags. You should embrace the warning signs as an opportunity to retain your top talent. Have a one-on one conversation and be honest about what you suspect. Make it clear how valuable they are to the team and the organization and find out what might be motivating them to look elsewhere.  Click here for more tips on retaining your employees.