Trouble on the Horizon – 5 Signs Your Best Employee May Be Contemplating Quitting

For managers and business leaders there can sometimes be nothing more troubling than the prospect of losing top talent.

As an employer or manager, when you’re able to recognize the signs you could have a great employee on the brink of quitting, you may be able to step in and prevent it from happening.


Common signs include:

1. Lower Quality of Work

If an employee displays a consistently sloppy, distracted ,or low quality of work that’s probably symptomatic of having someone who isn’t a good fit for a position.

On the other hand, if you have someone who’s previously been one of your top employees and their performance begins to decline or you see a lot of carelessness, it may be a red flag that person is about to move on.

2. Doing the Minimum Required

If you see someone as top talent in your organization they’ve likely had a history of going above and beyond in their position. This could mean coming in early, leaving a little late, or volunteering to take on extra duties or development opportunities.

When an employee starts instead just trying to meet the minimum requirements of his or her position, they may be looking to leave their job or else they’re experiencing burnout—problematic in and of itself.

3. Asking for More Time Off Than Usual

Of course every employee needs time off on the occasion, even the best talent at your organization, but you may need to become a bit suspicious if these time-off requests become more frequent, or are for random hours here and there throughout the work week.

This may be a sign your employee is out and about looking for other jobs or even has interviews at other companies.

4. Big Life Changes

Life changes that are monumental in an employees’ life can be positive or negative and include anything from getting a new degree he or she has been working toward, or even a divorce.

When an employee has something shift in their life in a significant way, it can mean their attention shifts from their job and they may even have new financial needs or life requirements that lead them to consider leaving their job, whether it’s to pursue other opportunities outside of a career or move to another job.

5. Different Interactions with Coworkers

If your most talented employee has always been friendly with his or her coworkers and you see a sudden shift such as disengagement or even disagreements amongst coworkers, it may be due to the fact the employee is transitioning out of these relationships as he/she plans to leave a position.

What It All Means…

Essentially what’s important for employers who want to hang on to top talent is to consistently be observing their employees and remain in-tune with what’s happening. Determining whether or not a great employee is poised to leave your company can be as simple as noticing a change in patterns that would likely be indiscernible to an outsider.

Being a keyed-in boss can help you avoid the loss of your talent by intervening before it’s too late and helping to find a resolution to whatever situation may have them considering quitting.

Being dialed in to your employees and their level of engagement can help you remain proactive as a leader so that rather than questioning why you had your most talented employees leave, you can be appreciative of the fact you were able to help meet their needs and retain them. Even if an employee does end up leaving and you’re unable to prevent it, by knowing what’s going on from an early stage, you can have a better understanding of how to retain employees and reduce turnover in the future—key to a successful talent management strategy.

November 17, 2014   Updated :March 23, 2015      

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