People Management
5 min.

7 Signs an Employee Is About to Quit

Samuel Roy
Last updated on 6 Dec. 2023
Published on 12 Jun. 2019
Jeune femme en réflexion sur son avenir au sein de l'entreprise pour laquelle elle travaille

A resignation is always a big loss for an organization.

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Considering the training and experience of the quitter, as well as the recruitment efforts and costs necessary for their replacement, the loss is sure to generate expenditures in the thousands of dollars. Still, sooner or later, entrepreneurs and HR managers all face this situation. It may not be easy to anticipate, but there are more obvious portents. Here are 7 signs that an employee is about to quit, as well as potential solutions to apply before it’s too late.

1. Personal Problems

Tragedies such as the loss of a loved one, an illness or a separation can lead people to reassess their priorities in life. They sometimes get the impression that they’re devoting too much time to their work, and not enough to their personal life; that life is too short not to enjoy themselves.

It’s only natural to want to compensate the harm or loss with something new. This gives rise to a desire for change. Since work accounts for much of our lives as workers, chances are this search will lead the employee to look for a new job.

But quite often, what they really need is to confide in someone and take some time to recoup.

And so the best thing to do is to quickly set up a meeting with the employee to listen to them, show them empathy and offer them the time off they need.

2. Jealousy

A colleague’s promotion or pay raise can create feelings of injustice in others. “Why him and not me?” “I deserve one, too.” “I work hard, too.” Those employees can go on questioning for some time until, eventually, they start to wonder if they shouldn’t just quit.

While this type of situation may be difficult to manage given its emotional charge, it is essential to keep to the facts. This discontent shouldn’t have sway over what’s best for your organization.

But on the other hand, it is essential to understand why the employee feels this way. They certainly have their reasons; a different perspective, maybe. You should try and understand their take on things and make them feel valued. Furthermore, if possible, it can help to invest in their professional development or assign them new responsibilities. This shows them you wish to see them grow and develop within your organization.

3. Excessive Absences

An excess of replacement requests, frequent absences or a sudden spike in accrued leave usage can raise questions about your employee, and with good reason.

Unless a special situation is involved, chances are they are no longer motivated to work for you. A good place to start is learning what motivates these absences.

If your employee already sees themselves somewhere else, the best thing to do might simply be to prepare for their departure and launch the recruitment process as soon as possible.

4. Declining Work Ethic

If an employee starts to exhibit a negative attitude, to isolate themselves, to come in late or to keep quiet during meetings, odds are they are on the decline.

Staff whose work ethic decreases are necessarily less productive and risk negatively affecting that of their colleagues.

Renewing this employee’s engagement with the business is vital, and offering them new projects and responsibilities might just do the trick.

5. Overt Complaints About Work

Employees who regularly complain about their work to colleagues are necessarily disenchanted with their job. This type of complaint is dangerous, as it creates a ripple of negative waves throughout the team.

The first thing to do is to meet with the employee to understand what is motivating those complaints. The employee’s grounds might not be valid. Conversely, if the complaints are legitimate, it is essential to know more about them.

If they turn out to be unfounded, termination can be considered. It’s preferable to be one employee short rather than to see them bring everyone else down.

6. A Friend Recently Quit

Employees whose friends quit can be dejected and feel less at home as a result. And it’s not uncommon to see ex-employees try to get their friends to jump ship.

As a result, employees whose friends leave can be affected and even persuaded to follow suit.

Happiness at work is without a doubt one of the most important things for any worker.

It’s important to meet with the remaining employee to check up on what they want and make sure they still feel good at the business. Otherwise, they might quit as well. Furthermore, if their friend was terminated, they might suffer from survivor’s syndrome, and should be explained what it is.

7. Increased Presence on LinkedIn

Important changes and increased activity on an employee’s LinkedIn can indicate they are looking to change jobs. If that’s the case, odds are the employee will be more secretive and less present at work. This can lead to prolonged lunch breaks, more frequent phone calls during working hours or more-formal-than-usual attire.

It’s recommended to meet with the employee in private to discuss these changes and ask them about their general satisfaction regarding their work and professional ambitions.

The root of the situation might come down to a poor workplace climate, a specific internal situation or limited advancement opportunities. The key is to identify and address the issue at hand.

If You See One of These Signs, Take Action

If you identify one or more of these signs, it’s time to speak with your employee. Good communication is essential in such situations. Take the time to understand their situation and look for solutions. A quitting employee is a heavy loss for any business, and the recruitment process—not to mention the training and time needed to achieve the expertise that will make a real difference within the organization—is extensive.

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