5 Signs An Employee Is About To Leave
Although it is the role of HR to attract and retain talent, it is inevitable for some employees to leave the organization. The reality is that, in some cases, employees that want to leave an organization should not be prevented from doing so. Typically, people that are no longer interested in their roles, responsibilities or working for the organization perform lower and do not make positive contributions to the organization’s bottom line.
In order to prevent residual effects of presenteeism, or low performance of an employee who is ‘on the clock’ but dissatisfied and/or uninterested, it is essential to have an understanding of the signs associated with a person who is leaving the organization.
1. Lack of Engagement
It is typical human behavior to distance oneself in preparation for a separation; the reality is that ending an employment relationship involves concluding several interpersonal relationships and an intrinsic contract between employee and employer. With this being said, lowered engagement can come in many forms. You may notice that the employee no longer participates regularly in social events or outings such as lunches and company-wide events. Additionally, there may be limited engagement and contribution in meetings; employees that were previously vocal in meetings and shared thoughts and ideas may no longer exude the same level of enthusiasm.
It's important to note that lack of engagement is both subjective and can be attributed to factors aside from an imminent resignation. In order to address perceived engagement issues and understand if they are related to the desire to leave the company, engage in a candid and direct conversation with the employee. Be sure to articulate the fact that there is a genuine concern and cite examples in which the individual was contributory and enthusiastic. Explain that this is an opportunity to mediate or discuss any challenges that the employee may be facing. Be prepared to utilize your employee relations skills to navigate any tough topics that may come up, including personal ones. If the individual is unable to explain, or refutes the claim completely, there is a strong possibility that he or she has one foot out of the door. From here, gauge whether or not the individual is a high performer and you want to attempt to re-engage him or her.
2. Frequent Absences
Many employers have become very savvy with recruiting candidates that are gainfully employed, including conducting interviews outside of core work hours, virtually and even via instant messaging. This makes it difficult to draw a clear conclusion that frequent, uncharacteristic absences within a short period of time could be an indication that the employee is leaving the organization. However, when you do notice employees requesting days off of work sporadically (with less than one week’s notice), calling in sick frequently, or taking prolonged breaks, your red flag should go up.
Attendance issues are problematic whether an employee is planning to leave or not. Productivity is impeded when employees are frequently out of the work area especially when the absences are unplanned. Other employees must overcompensate to ensure efficiency, which may lead to morale issues if the absences become excessive. Again, it is important to think about the individual’s contribution to the organization. You must discuss the absences if they are frequent and unplanned or with very little notice; subsequent courses of action should include specific guidelines that the employee must follow in order to remain in good standing and any other employee relations procedures dictated by your organization.
3. Lack of Responsiveness
An additional indicator that an employee is going to leave is a lack of responsiveness and follow-up. In other words, an individual who was previously a consistent communicator is no longer returning messages and attending meetings, executing tasks on time and/or following through on assignments that require extra effort. This is why employers discover unfinished projects and tasks long after an employee has separated from the company. You also may notice that the individual is less willing to accept tasks that won’t be taking place in the very near future.
This issue should be addressed head on – the reality is that follow up and responsiveness are key components of most roles. Not only it unprofessional, not responding or following up impedes productivity overall; in most cases a message, inquiry or request from a customer or internal stakeholder is crucial to the execution of project or task. Cite specific examples in which the employee has not been responsive and ask for explanations. Be sure to articulate the negative impact on the business caused by the actions as well as areas in the individual’s job description that specifically require follow up, customer service, open communication, or another skill set that is related. While the employee may have an explanation that uncovers issues such as limited bandwidth or poor time management skills, you may also learn that the root cause of the lack of responsiveness is an upcoming resignation.
4. Lowered Performance
There are some instances in which lowered performance is a cause of an employee wanting to leave an organization, and others in which it is an indicator. In other words, an employee that is consistently underperforming and cannot meet organizational expectations may lose motivation. On the other hand, lowered performance including unfinished, late and/or work that is poorly done may be a sign that the employee is leaving. Employees that are disenchanted with a job or organization are likely to distance themselves psychologically by exerting less effort. In some instances, if an employee feels that he or she will never be able to reach performance expectations there will be less motivation to try. On the other hand, those that have decided to leave will also underperform because they are no longer invested in the success of the company.
Takeaways from a conversation with the employee regarding performance should be utilized to decide whether or not it is feasible to try to retain him or her. Unless a true need is identified, resources should not be used for training and development of an individual with no vested interest in improving or staying with the organization.
5. Updates to LinkedIn/Social Media presence
The job market's home-base is the internet; as previously mentioned many employers are engaging in innovative recruitment tactics. In order to get calls and attract employers, candidates work diligently to refine their social media presence on sites like LinkedIn. Although difficult to monitor, if you notice that an individual’s LinkedIn is a bit more overtly self-promoting (i.e. reads like a cover letter), your red flag should go up. Take notice of shifts from a bare profile to a robust one as well as radical changes to the professional head shot. In some cases, individuals will directly call out an active job search within the profile or headline.
Addressing social media can be tricky because, no matter how extensive your policy may be, there is really no way to correlate an updated LinkedIn profile with a job search. However, if you do come across an explicit solicitation of an employee actively seeking employment have a conversation with the individual’s manager and begin the recruitment process. Keep an eye out for the signs mentioned within this article and address them appropriately. Be sure to follow your employee relations procedures and document issues accordingly.
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