A man holds up a paper with the words “I Quit!” while looking down

8 Warning Signs an Employee Is About to Quit

6 min read | Jan 29, 2024
 Marta Gongos- Ad Culture By Marta Gongos

As a business owner or HR manager, you know how important it is to build a loyal and productive team—but not everyone is around for the long haul.

Statistics show that 30% of new hires leave within 90 days, and even long-term employees will resign if employers give them a reason to. Fortunately, you can reduce employee turnover if you know what to look for and how to take action.

In this article, we’re walking you through eight warning signs an employee is looking for another job and plans to quit, plus what you can do when you notice them!

1. Taking More Time Off Than Usual

One of the most common signs that an employee is about to quit is when they start taking more time off than usual. They might also be frequently absent, late, or leaving early.

These unexplainable absences could be them:

  • Using up their remaining vacation time or sick days
  • Making time to attend job interviews
  • Simply losing interest in their work

2. Declining Productivity and Job Performance

A woman points out something on a laptop in front of another employee
Image Source: Canva

Another warning sign of an unhappy employee is when their productivity and job performance drop significantly. A few reasons could be a lack of engagement, motivation, or satisfaction with their work. These are all concerning!

Performance dips are common signs an employee is looking for another job, as they’re distracted and trying to be in two places at once.

⚠️ Reminder: Other factors or circumstances may also affect an employee’s work quality, so if you notice poor performance, communicate with them and try to understand their situation before jumping to conclusions!

3. Avoiding Long-Term Projects or Commitments

Among different signs that show an employee is leaving, one that’s pretty tough to crack is when they start avoiding long-term projects or commitments. It shows a lack of interest in career advancement—which is a giant red flag 🚩

Whether it’s because they don’t want to invest their energy into something they won’t finish or because don’t want to leave unfinished work behind, watch out!

4. Updating Their Professional Profile

One of the top signs that an employee is about to quit is that you’ll find them updating their profiles and becoming more active on professional platforms.

Whether that’s LinkedIn, Indeed, or Monster, it’s a pretty big sign that they’re looking for another job, networking with potential employers, or showcasing their skills and achievements to fish career advancement opportunities in other companies.

5. Making Unrealistic Demands

Suddenly asking for a big raise or promotion is another one of the big signs an employee is looking for another job and planning to quit.

They probably don’t feel valued, but unrealistic requests or demands can also be their way of creating a pretext for leaving or testing the employer’s willingness to retain them. If requests aren’t granted, they may use it as a justification for quitting.

6. Becoming More Negative or Critical

An angry man in a blue suit about to throw a printer
Image Source: Canva

Another warning sign of an employee’s impending departure is when they start becoming increasingly critical of their job or the company.

If you see or hear them expressing their dissatisfaction more openly, they may be disengaged, disillusioned, or feeling workplace burnout. These negative emotions are often a sign of poor mental health, which can drive even good employees to seek a new job.

7. Being Less Communicative or Cooperative

Effective team communication is necessary for a productive and peaceful workplace, so when your star employees suddenly become less communicative or cooperative, it might be a pretty big sign they’re leaving.

Here are some behaviours to look out for:

  • Isolating themselves from other team members
  • Avoiding social interactions (i.e. lunch or company dinners)
  • Withdrawing from collaborative activities
  • Being less responsive to emails, calls, messages, or feedback

8. Going Through a Major Life Change

Life changes prompt career changes. Whether it’s getting married, having a child, a divorce, or a death in a family, a major life event can make people reevaluate their priorities.

Remember: your employees’ personal lives hugely impact their work. If they’re facing major life changes or a ton of stress, they may require more time, money, flexibility, or support—might jump ship if you can’t or won’t offer it to them.

 An envelope with the word resignation laid down on a table between two people
Image Source: Canva

What to Do if You Suspect an Employee Is About to Quit

If you see any sign that an employee is about to quit, don’t ignore them. The best thing to do is address the root cause of their dissatisfaction and make changes.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Schedule a one-on-one meeting and ask them how they feel about their work
  • Offer opportunities for professional and self-development
  • Provide constructive feedback and recognition wherever possible
  • Review their compensation and benefits to ensure they’re competitive
  • Improve work environment and culture
  • Address potential causes of employee burnout

For more information, check out these employee retention strategies.

⚠️ Reminder: If you take these steps and they still quit, you should respect their decision and wish them well. You can always take better steps with your new hires!

Retain Top Talent With Ad Culture

If you catch these signs an employee is about to quit a little too late or they’ve simply made up their mind, you’ll probably be looking to hire and train a replacement—and we know that’s not as easy as it sounds!

That’s what Ad Culture is here for. We’re a premier boutique recruitment agency in Toronto specializing in placing advertising professionals in the best workplaces. We’ll help you hire a new rockstar who will make a long-term impact at your company.

So, what should you do if you spot the signs an employee is looking for another job? Keep our number handy and contact us when you’re ready!

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