Top 10 Signs Someone Is About to Quit

There are certain behaviours shown by employees that can help managers predict whether they are about to quit. This article shares a list of 10 key signs someone is about to quit that can help you identify when one of your employees is quietly packing their bags to jump ship.

Waking up to the resignation of your most valued employee is a nightmare for most managers because it usually catches them off guard and could very easily trigger a mass employee exodus.

Below we explore 10 of the top signs someone about is about to leave that every manager should be monitoring their team members for in order to keep employee turnover in check in your organisation.

They no longer make long-term work commitments

Once an employee decides to leave their job at your company, they become far less inclined to commit to a long-term project because that would get in the way of them making their planned departure on time. Such an employee usually prefers to summarily wrap up their current assignments and just go.

They make fewer contributions during meetings

Once an employee decides to leave, they are likely to act more reserved during meetings, and other company activities as well. If an employee who used to be active and engaged during meetings, providing unique great insights, suddenly no longer has anything to contribute or just a couple of lukewarm ideas at best, that is one of the most reliable signs someone is about to quit.

Upon investigation it could very easily turn out to simply be due to a family crisis, a relationship problem, or some other personal struggle that they are currently dealing with outside work but in any case, it is an indicator that deserves your genuine and prompt concern as a manager.

They start showing up for the job far less

If an employee who never used to call in sick or had to be reminded to take their leave is now hardly ever present in the office, that’s another reliable sign an employee is about to quit.

They are very likely to be out hunting for a new job or maybe have already even secured it and are now maxing out their time off to rest as much as they can before embarking on their new journey.

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They lose interest in career advancement

Every employee naturally has ambition – they are always looking to advance up the job ladder in your company. So once that goal no longer seems important to an employee, and they are no longer interested in pleasing their supervisor, then they are most likely looking for a position elsewhere and now have their eye on climbing a different set of ladder steps.

This is especially probable if you recently passed them over for a promotion or raise that they really wanted. Such an employee who feels frustrated, discouraged, and undervalued is easily motivated to look for a job somewhere else where they hope to have a better chance at advancing up the ranks.

They no longer communicate well

Not returning phone calls and emails is another one of the key signs someone is about to quit.

If one of your employees is considering resignation, they’re less likely to communicate often – be it in person, via email or over the phone. This is because they are less concerned about the day-to-day tasks of the job.

They replace productivity with ‘presenteeism’

When an employee who is usually productive and reliable suddenly starts doing the least and is no longer dependable, that’s one of the key signs someone is about to quit.

Managers should watch out for any team members that exhibit ‘presenteeism’ – the phenomenon of employees coming to work to do the bare minimum they can get away with. This tends to manifest in the form of the following ways:

Taking longer breaks

Breaks are very necessary but if you notice that an employee is suddenly taking longer lunch breaks, they could very easily be out having lunch meetings potential employers or headhunters.

They start being more secretive

Does the employee block their computer screen whenever you walk by? Are they always tucking some papers away every time you walk in? Maybe even keeping their office door more closed more than usual? Do they leave their office to take personal calls?

Don’t jump to any conclusions but if this kind of behavior becomes frequent, it’s a red flag that deserves your immediate attention as a manager.

Punching in and out at exact times

If an employee starts making exact arrivals and departures according to the stipulated company time, never coming even slightly early, staying even a minute late or volunteering for extra work, this is a strong indicator that they are just biding their time while they secure their exit out of your company.

about to quit

Image: Unsplash

Delegating their assignments

If one of your team members suddenly starts delegating their tasks to others without authorization from management this shows they already have one foot out the door and are literally letting go of their job.

They start causing unnecessary friction

Conflict is not only natural but also healthy and useful if handled well. However, unnecessary disagreements based on malicious intentions cause workplace relationships to deteriorate.

Employees who are looking to leave are more likely to pick fights with their team members over trivial issues, partly because they secretly hope it gets them fired and partly because they simply no longer care about their interpersonal relationships in that particular workplace.

That’s why if you notice a toxic work relationship brewing between two employees, it’s one of the solid signs someone is about to quit.

Also, if an employee suddenly starts making unreasonable complaints or demands about company policies or management decisions, this is usually a red flag. They are most likely on their way out and looking to take as many others with them as they can by spreading discontent in the workplace.

Their work friend has recently quit

Having a best friend in the office makes the job far more enjoyable and boosts employee productivity. According to a Gallup Poll, those who had a best friend at work were 43% more likely to report having received recognition and praise for their work in the last week.

In fact, many employees even value the happiness of having friends at work above the salary they receive. This is why if an employee’s closest friend jumps ship and leaves a workplace, they are likely to follow them out the door, sometimes being recruited by friend to join them at their new job.

They are going through a major life change

Major life changes such as marriage, divorce, kids, buying a home or looking after a sick/elderly family member hold great sway on whether an employee chooses to stay at or leave your company because they inevitably change their living costs and availability to work.

So if one of your employees is going through a significant life change, that is one of the most reliable signs someone is about to quit.

employee about to resign

Image: Unsplash

In Summary

Employee turnover is a huge concern for employers – no matter what industry they are operating in. And for good reason.

Hiring, on-boarding and training new employees is a frustrating process that eats up a significant chunk of company resources including time, funds and human labour. Not to mention the lost productivity and newbie mistakes. This is why it’s very important for business owners to keep a watchful eye out for the above signs someone is about to quit.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.