10 Signs That an Employee is Going to Quit

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 03-17-2014 Email Print this article Print

We've reported frequently on the growing challenges that CIOs and other managers face in their talent recruitment and retention efforts. Most recently, for example, we revealed that more than one-half of hirers say they currently have positions open for which they can't find qualified candidates, and that one-third say it's difficult to retain top employees, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Given the struggles here, you'll find that it could be helpful to spot the following trouble signals that valued staffers send before quitting—observable behavioral clues that could lead to a successful, preemptive intervention on your part. The first six (which we're calling "unique qualifiers") are compiled from a recent, multi-part survey from Utah State University for which a total of 430 managers took part. Tim Gardner, the Utah State associate professor of business who led the research team, indicates that these signs are unique in terms of their high correlation between an employee's behavioral change and a pending resignation. We've added four others as well which are commonly cited among work experts, including those from Robert Half, the global specialized staffing firm. For more about the Utah State study, click here . For more about Robert Half's employee trouble signs, click here

  • Unique Qualifiers: Checking Out

    Potential soon-to-be ex-employees stop making constructive contributions in meetings, while suggesting fewer new ideas or innovative approaches in general.
    Unique Qualifiers: Checking Out
  • Unique Qualifiers: Short Timers

    They're reluctant to commit to long-term projects. And they do less work overall than before.
    Unique Qualifiers: Short Timers
  • Unique Qualifiers: Disinterested Pupil

    They decline invitations for training and development programs, and stop expressing interest in advancing within the organization.
    Unique Qualifiers: Disinterested Pupil
  • Unique Qualifiers: Withdrawal Symptoms, Part I

    They become more reserved and quiet in the office.
    Unique Qualifiers: Withdrawal Symptoms, Part I
  • Unique Qualifiers: Withdrawal Symptoms, Part II

    They avoid social interactions with the boss and members of management.
    Unique Qualifiers: Withdrawal Symptoms, Part II
  • Unique Qualifiers: Bare Basics

    They do the minimum amount of work needed, no longer volunteering for "over and beyond" duties that they once normally did.
    Unique Qualifiers: Bare Basics
  • Other Signs: Private Conversations

    If interviewing, they spend more time off-site than before, and they're on the phone (usually taken privately via cell in a quiet part of the building) frequently when on site.
    Other Signs: Private Conversations
  • Other Signs: Dress to Kill

    Dressing up is another sign of active interviewing. Even if not in a tie, a male employee may start wearing nicer slacks and a shirt in the office, while keeping a tie and sport coat in his car for a quick change.
    Other Signs: Dress to Kill
  • Other Signs: Burn Notice

    They use an excessive amount of sick, vacation and personal time in a relatively short period, trying to burn through it before they quit.
    Other Signs: Burn Notice
  • Other Signs: Problem Solver

    They complain less about work issues they used to care about, because they realize these matters won't be their concern anymore.
    Other Signs: Problem Solver
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.


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