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11 Warning signs an employee is going to leave

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Employee turnover is one of the biggest concerns for employers. It's frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive to deal with.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management direct employee replacement costs can reach up to 50% to 60% of an employee's annual salary. Employers must add this to the price of on-boarding, training, productivity loss and business errors.

If you suspect an employee is frustrated or unmotivated, you can come up with ways to keep them positive and engaged. Often, if you address any issues while they are still in the 'searching' phase they could stop their search and stay.

If you're concerned that an employee is thinking of leaving, these are the warning signs to look out for:

1) Productivity dip

Has your normally productive, reliable, and punctual employee suddenly become less dependable? If an employee, who used to perform well, suddenly changes, it's a sign that something is wrong. First, have a chat with him/her to see if there are any personal issues. Let him tell you what's wrong, and try to offer a solution.

If they don't show much interest or avoids the subject, that's a sign they're unsatisfied. In that case, start preparing solutions in case he/she wants to leave. Any behavioural changes pointing to 'presenteeism' - the phenomenon of employees coming to work, but not being fully present - are huge red flags' that someone's going to quit.

2) Acts more reserved and contributes less at meetings

Have you got an employee who used to be engaged, has suddenly become less active? If they show no interest in new projects, especially long-term projects, and input less at meetings it could mean that they have lost their motivation and no longer care about the future of your company.

3) Has a negative attitude

If your employee engages in office gossip, makes sarcastic comments, has become more irritable and often complains to co-workers, it's a red flag.

A lack of enthusiasm is also a clear sign that you might lose him/her soon. Often an employee will voice their opinions, concerns, and complaints about their current job or a supervisor right before they quit. If this type of behaviour is uncharacteristic of an employee, it could be one of the final warning signs.

4) Was recently passed by for a promotion or raise

If your employee just got passed by for a promotion, it's likely they feel undervalued and discouraged and will probably consider leaving. Communicate with your employee and explain why they didn't get their promotion or raise. Figure out what's most important to them, whether that be recognition or more money, and then discuss what goals need to be met for them to remain happy.

5) Has had a major life change

Major life changes provoke lifestyle changes. Having children, looking after a sick family member, getting married or divorced, purchasing a home. Any of these factors can have an impact on whether an employee will stay at or chooses to leave your company. If you have a close relationship with your employees, they can give you a friendly heads up regarding a change in their circumstances.

6) Is more active on LinkedIn

Regular use of LinkedIn is nothing to worry about. However, a sudden uptake in new connections, articles shared, or groups joined, could indicate that your employee is boosting his or her social profile in preparation for the move.

If you notice that your employee is building new connections on LinkedIn, as well as visiting job search sites, or researching other companies, it's a clear sign they are ready to quit.

7) Is absent a lot

When an employee who rarely called in sick or took a long holiday is now taking longer lunch breaks is taking days off and arriving late or leaving early, it's another sign that he/she is disengaged. Perhaps this person is searching for new employment opportunities, attending interviews, using up acquired time off, or maxing out his or her benefits.

8) Takes more personal calls

Does your employee frequently leave meetings or their desk to make personal calls? These calls could be them dealing with a family emergency or speaking with another employer. Don't make assumptions but if this becomes frequent, it's a red flag that something is wrong.

9) There is a change in their appearance

If your employee suddenly starts dressing sharp, it could be a sign that they are attending job interviews before or after work. On the other hand, if someone starts to dress down, it could mean that they are feeling unhappy and no longer care about their appearance.

10) Work friends are jumping ship

According to friends in the workplace survey by Wildgoose 57% of those surveyed said having a best friend in at work made their time at work more enjoyable. Almost a third stated they were more productive and over 20% said it boosted their creativity. 60% stated that happiness was more valuable to them than salary.

We are naturally social, so when a workplace friend leaves, it's likely that their friends will follow them out the door. Be mindful of this and arrange a follow-up talk with the employees left behind after the friend leaves.

11) Has just obtained a degree, license, or certification

When an employee receives a new accreditation, it can be to become a more valuable member of your company or to be able to get a promotion. Generally, though, a person furthers their education to make themselves more attractive for potential employers.

Realising when an employee is about to quit isn't easy. These signs don't necessarily mean that you are about to lose an employee, but they might. You can acknowledge that they seem distracted, as ask if they are ok. All employees are different - some will be open and willing to give you their reasons, while others won't. If they share their grievances offer help if you can and if it is mutually advantageous.