Consider that it can take months to fully train new employees on your policies, processes, and skills, and then bring them up to the performance level of your current employees. It pays to prevent a setback by retaining your top workers. Retention is a continual process, but one aspect of it requires immediate and strong action—keeping a top-performer who is about to leave.
Here are the three signals that best predict an employee is ready to quit, and advice for identifying and responding to them before it’s too late:
- Complaining to Peers
Unhappy workers almost always vent to peers about working conditions, schedules, customers, and even the product or service you deliver. In extreme cases, they badmouth managers and influence others to agree with their convictions. This condition is toxic to your employee morale. In less severe cases, the employee’s grumblings of discontent occur more frequently.
Managers need eyes and ears on the ground at every level of employment to recognize complaints that could lead to a valuable employee’s resignation—severe or subtle. If you don’t have employees who can provide feedback about disgruntled peers, talk to employees individually about their job satisfaction, including their feelings about direct supervisors.
- Decline in Work Ethic
Once an employee has decided they are more likely to leave than stay, their work ethic usually tails off. It may not even be deliberate; the stress of contemplating what to do next leads to mental exhaustion, disengagement, and loss of motivation. Of course, this is made worse by any continuation of the circumstances that led to the employee’s dissatisfaction, especially issues with working relationships. The combination assures you of a pending resignation.
During this period, employees become increasingly invested in their job search. It’s important to recognize a decline in work ethic and talk with your employee candidly, but without being confrontational. Express your interest in keeping the employee happy and ask what you can do to improve his or her experience.
- Increased Time Off, Not for Vacations
This one should come as no surprise. When an employee’s discontent is reaching the point where he or she is actively job hunting, you will know it. The sick days and claims of sudden emergencies, doctors’ appointments, and funerals will all be dead giveaways. If your employees have medical insurance through your company, the doctors’ visits may be real. Your employee may be taking care of unfinished business before starting on new insurance, but this still indicates a looming resignation.
Your chances of retaining an employee at this stage are slim, and would likely require a substantial raise and concessions to the employee’s sources of dissatisfaction. Don’t let it get to this point; recognize and respond to the first two signals before it’s too late.
Have you noticed any signals that reliably forecast an employee resignation? Share your experiences with us on Facebook!