Signs Your Employee Might Be Considering a Departure

11.15.23 | Management Tips

As a manager or employer, recognizing signs that an employee may be thinking about leaving is essential for retention and team dynamics. But many signs are quite subtle. Let’s take a look at some changes in employee behavior that may indicate they’re on the verge of quitting.

Decreased Productivity

When employees start thinking about leaving, their productivity levels naturally decrease. They’re busy thinking about their next steps, which leaves less brainpower to devote to their work. They may start phoning it in, doing just the minimum that is required.

Reluctance to Make Long-Term Commitments

If an employee has one foot out the door, they won’t want to commit to projects that would keep them tied down long-term. When a worker who was previously eager to sign up for new opportunities suddenly stops taking on all but the most basic tasks, consider it a possible red flag. At the very least, this shows that they’re no longer feeling fulfilled.

Difficulty Focusing

Employees who are ready to leave tend to check out mentally. They might start missing deadlines or making basic mistakes. Of course, this type of behavior could have many causes, such as problems at home, so avoid jumping to conclusions.

Reduced Enthusiasm

By the time an employee starts seriously thinking about leaving, they’ve likely been unhappy for a while. Naturally, an unhappy worker won’t demonstrate much enthusiasm at work. Be especially wary if someone who was previously a cheerleader or at least a positive role model starts to become more muted.

What Now?

If you notice any of these common behaviors, don’t panic. Instead, calmly start to seek more information. Everyone has good days and bad days, so look for patterns over time. If you believe there’s an issue, schedule a one-on-one meeting with the employee. Be non-confrontational and ask open-ended questions. There could be something else going on that has nothing to do with leaving at all.

If your employee is considering a departure, keep the dialogue going. What’s making them unhappy? Is there anything they feel like they need that you could provide? Sometimes, small changes could be enough to convince an on-the-fence employee to stay. If they’re ready to go, though, be sure to handle it professionally. Don’t bully, threaten, or try to intimidate. Initiate your company policies for processing a departure and try to keep your professional relationship intact during their last days of work.

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