How to tell if your best employee is planning to quit

5 mins

Losing talent is disruptive and costly, but many employers still miss the signs that someone...

By Natasha Crump

Chief People & ESG Officer

Losing talent is disruptive and costly, but many employers still miss the signs that someone is considering leaving, or about to resign. Being aware of what to look out for, can give organisations a chance to take steps that might change their employee’s mind and help retain their best people. Here at Amoria Bond our business success is built on us being people experts; our knowledge and experience of taking people through the recruitment process gives us unique insights into tell-tale behaviours, which we’ve used to develop the 7 A’s as a guide for employers to look out for:

Appearance: Sudden changes to appearance can be an obvious indicator, and most of us recognise that dressing to impress can be a sign that an employee is interviewing. However, there’s also an often missed flip side to watch out for too; employees who feel de-motivated and disengaged may well neglect their appearance. So if an employee starts looking unusually dishevelled, it may be because they’ve mentally already checked-out of work.

Attitude: Has your employee started questioning or complaining about things that have never bothered them before? Have they withdrawn from social interactions and stopped joining in with team socials and office banter? Do they generally seem more negative about work? Are they moody and irritable, or uncharacteristically prone to mood swings that may suggest the highs and lows of interviewing?

Absence: Increased sick absences, arriving late, leaving early, unexplained or unusual off-site ‘meetings’, and just generally not being available when you would normally expect them to be, are all potential warning signs.

Actions: If an employee has previously been a star performer, a drop in productivity, missing deadlines, submitting sloppy work, and making ‘silly mistakes’ indicates there is a problem – even if it’s not that they’re thinking about quitting, you need to understand what’s going on as your employee may need your support, and either way, sooner is better than later.

Avoidance: Has your employee started avoiding eye content with you? Do they seem to make excuses not to take your call or join a meeting? Have they started to get more easily distracted by urgent phone calls or emails? Do they check their phone regularly as a way to avoid sustained eye contact, or in a manner that suggests they just want to be somewhere else?

Assignments: If an employee suddenly starts to push back on new assignments, or becomes difficult to pin down for future commitments, or starts suggesting passing aspects of their work or role onto colleagues without a reasonable explanation, then they may well be planning to leave.

Acting: Trust your instinct, if you feel like an employee is acting ‘guilty’ around you then you may well be right. Be careful not to be paranoid though, so consider whether they’re also exhibiting any of the other tell-tale signs.

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over; until they hand in their notice, there’s still plenty companies can do to keep keep talent in the business  (actually, there’s still plenty that can be done to change an employee’s mind even after they’ve handed in their notice which we’ll cover another time!). So by knowing what the signs are, and noticing them when an employee starts to behave differently, you are giving yourself the chance to intervene before it's too late.