You can’t expect your entire staff to keep working for you forever. Employees leave for a variety of reasons. Maybe they want more money. Maybe they don’t feel as though you’re offering enough professional development opportunities. Maybe they don’t find much meaning in their current work and are interested in something more fulfilling.
While you can’t prevent your employees from leaving your company, you can take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood they do.
And you should.
In addition to knocking your team off its proverbial footing when someone leaves and you need to add new blood into the mix, employee turnover can really hurt your company’s purse.
According to SHRM, direct employee replacement costs soar to as much as 60% of a worker’s annual salary. When you factor in other variables like accrued paid time off and replacement expenses, the total cost of employee turnover can cost anywhere between 90% and 200% of an employee’s salary.
No matter how well your company is performing, there’s no way you should be comfortable with forking over twice a would-be employee’s salary just to hire a new worker when someone leaves. So it goes without saying it’s in your best interest to do everything you can to encourage employees to stick around.
But how are you supposed to know whether an employee might be thinking about severing ties with your company? If you notice any of the following changes in behavior, you may want to pull your employee aside and have a conversation to see how they’re doing.
1. There’s a noticeable change in attitude — for the worse
Let’s say Jim, a graphic designer, has worked for your company for two years. He’s always in a good mood. He makes people laugh. He’s always ready to lend a helping hand. All of a sudden, every time you see Jim, he has a scowl on his face. There’s no more laughter. He looks angry, and he never offers to help anyone anymore.
Such a drastic change in personality may very well indicate that Jim is ready to quit at any moment.
2. Employees with perfect attendance start taking a lot of unplanned time off
Not every employee takes uses up all of their paid days off each year. In fact, some employees seem to be such fixtures at work that you wonder if they ever take any time off at all.
If one of your employees who has a record of perfect attendance starts calling in sick every other week, it may indicate that individual is interviewing elsewhere. Worse yet, the employee could dread coming to work so much that they can’t get out of bed in the morning and play hooky instead.
3. Chatty team members keep their lips sealed during meetings
Have you recently noticed that one of your team members you used to be able to rely on for insights and ideas at group meetings has all of a sudden become mute?
When chatty employees stop talking as much, it could indicate they’ve checked out and are on the verge of quitting once they get another gig.
4. The quality of an employee’s work plummets for no reason
When employees become disengaged at work, they lose the incentive to try to reach their fullest potential. They don’t want to be at work as it is, so they figure, what’s the point in giving it their all? If one of your top performers has started turning in low-quality work all of a sudden, check in with that individual to see whether they are still motivated and if there’s anything you can do to help them succeed.
Remember, a drop in performance might not always indicate someone wants to leave; they could just be dealing with some personal demons or struggles at home. The only way you’ll know for sure is by asking.
5. Productive workers start doing the bare minimum
Every worker has quotas of some sort. For some, quotas turn into a game; they want to see how much more they can produce.
If you’ve noticed one of your workers who consistently over-delivers has all of a sudden reverted to producing the bare minimum, there’s a good chance that employee is thinking about hopping jobs the first moment they can.
6. Workers start coming in late and leaving early
Your office likely has some sort of set business hours — or at least “normal” business hours where most team members are in the office.
Let’s say you start noticing that Suzie, a member of the sales team, has developed the awesome habit of coming in an hour or more late and leaving way before anyone else does. When Suzie started, you routinely saw that she was always on time and one of the last people to leave at night.
When someone isn’t even willing to pretend to put in the requisite hours each week, they’re probably thinking about working somewhere else.
7. Employees say they have a doctor’s appointment and show up to work in a tie
Have you recently noticed that one of your more scraggly-dressed employees is starting to show up to work in nicer clothes on a somewhat scattered basis?
You don’t need to wear a suit to go to the doctor. When employees are randomly dressed nicely for work, that “doctor’s appointment” may actually be a job interview.
8. Huge life changes are on the horizon
Employees don’t only quit jobs for negative reasons. Sometimes, major life changes can determine whether an employee sticks around or not. For example, let’s say one of your employee’s wives landed an incredible job across the country. The opportunity is too good to pass up, so your employee is out the door.
Or one of your employees could become pregnant. Who’s to say whether she will return to work after giving birth? On the flip side, one of your male employees might become a stay-at-home dad after his wife gives birth.
Understanding what cues to look for can help you determine whether an employee might be on the verge of quitting. Instead of waiting for that to happen, take a proactive approach and reach out to unhappy team members to see if there’s anything you can do to make them enjoy work more. Employee retention will not only save your company big bucks, but it'll also save your workforce's morale.
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